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Moktar Ould Daddah
Arabic: mukhtār wuld dāda

Moktar Ould Daddah

(1924-) President of Mauritania 1961-1978.
Ould Daddah became the first president of independent Mauritania. His politics were authoritarian but allowed some public participation. In many cases public participation was however expressed through strikes and demonstrations, and in the late 1960's the country was on the verge of civil war.
Ould Daddah's rise to early success came from his abilities to make different opposition parties work together, for instance by admitting his earlier opponents into his late 1950's administration.
He is mainly remembered for his achievements for working towards more unity between the two racial groups of the country: Moors and blacks.
The economy of Mauritania saw little progress through his years in office, he remained most of the time strongly dependent on French aid.
What brought an end to his regime, was great dissatisfaction with Mauritania's war in Western Sahara against Polisario, as many Mauritanians sympathized with their cause. But also, draught in Sahel, principally in the period 1969 to 1974, and decline in export revenues due to fall in international prices on iron, had worsened the situation for all Mauritanians.

1924: Born in the small town of Boutilimit into an aristocratic family.
1950's: Marries the daughter of president Charles de Gaulle of France, while studying law in Paris, France.
— Returns from Paris as the first Mauritanian with a University degree.
— Joins the relatively moderate party Progressive Mauritanian Union.
1958: Is elected president of the Executive Council.
— Establishes a new party, the Mauritanian Regrouping Party.
1959: Is elected prime minister of still colonized Mauritania, after that his party won every seat in the National Assembly in popular elections.
1961 August: Ould Daddah is elected president of Mauritania, the first after the country's independence.
September: A government is formed with ministers from the two largest parties of Mauritania.
December: Ould Daddah has the 4 main political parties join the Mauritanian People's Party, which becomes the sole legal party.
1964: Due to national unrest, Ould Daddah changes Mauritania into an authoritarian one-party system.
1966: Is reelected president.
1971: Is elected president of the Organization of African Unity (OUA).
— Is reelected president.
1975 August: Ould Daddah presents a charter which calls for an Islamic, nationalist, centralist and socialist democracy. This charter proved popular, and resulted in less tension with the opposition.
1976: Is reelected president.
1977 July: Nouakchott is attacked by the Polisario, and Ould Daddah appoints for the first time a military officer to the position of minister of defence. He had earlier avoided this, in fright of a military take over.
1978 July 10: Is ousted from power after a coup led by Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Ould Salek. This was a reaction to the lack of success that Mauritania had when trying to take over parts of former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara).
— Ould Daddah is imprisoned.
1979 August: After French pressure, Ould Daddah is released from prison, and moves to France.
1980: Ould Daddah becomes the actual leader of the opposition movement Alliance pour une Mauritanie Democratique (AMD).

By Tore Kjeilen