Magharebia (Washington DC)

31 December 2012

Mauritania: Politicians Seek Ideas From Youth

Nouakchott — Mauritanian government officials and young people recently met for two days in Nouadhibou to discuss ways to improve the city.

The Youth Dialogue Forum in Nouadhibou, "Citoyennes et Citoyens Debout" (Citizens Standing) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) organised the December 16th-17th event.

The "Integrating Young People in the Political Process" forum allowed young people and elected officials to collaborate on "solving problems in their cities, such as health and environment", NDI official Mohamed Habib Allah Ould Mohamed Lamine told Magharebia.

"The activity is part of a tour to be organised in the coming weeks for Mauritanian youth in the cities of Kaédi, Kiffa and Nouakchott. Ten young people will be chosen from each province to take part in a final meeting in which the reached conclusions will be discussed," he added.

Young participants enjoyed the event but said they had hoped for greater attendance by elected officials.

"I was greatly disappointed because the mayor and city sheikh didn't attend to answer our questions," UNESCO Club member Ba Cheikh Oumar told Magharebia.

"Yet, we benefited from information provided by NDI on the role of elected officials in development, and also from learning about many of the issues in the same field," he added.

Citoyennes et Citoyens Debout official Alpha Ibrahima Thiam also shared his observations with Magharebia.

"I can say that the success of the meeting was relative as compared to the goals and conclusions that we expected," he said.

"Youths discussed issues related to the work of elected officials in certain areas such as health, environment and education. However, some of the elected officials who are directly concerned with these issues, especially Nouadhibou mayor who is more concerned than others, didn't attend," Thiam said.

Ba Cheikh Oumar told Magharebia, "Until now I couldn't talk about tangible, positive results because the main party that is supposed to implement young people's recommendations, namely the elected officials, such as the mayor, were absent."

"As to the moral, I can say that the meeting generated a desire in us as young people to work and make achievements, and made us feel that we are active and have a mark on public life more than ever," he added.

Youth activist Souleiman Mahmoud Allah had similar views on the event.

"As far as the aspects of organisation, form and training are concerned, they were good because they made us learn about the role of elected local officials towards the town and citizens in general," he told Magharebia.

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