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Mauritania to adopt constitution reforms

Image of Mauritanian President Mohammed Ould Beilil [Jemal Oumar/Wikipedia]

Mauritanian lawmakers voted yesterday for constitutional reforms which will abolish the country's Senate and alter the country's flag to better represent those who battled for independence from France.

Lawmakers in the lower house of the West African country passed a contentious constitutional amendment package sworn in by 121 votes to 19, President of the National Party, Mohammed Ould Beilil confirmed. The changes will now be considered by the Senate, where the government also has a majority, meaning the body will now have to vote on its own abolition and replacement by regional councils.

Proposed flag of Mauritania

The text approved yesterday by the deputies, amends the Constitution in force since 1991, and provides in particular a suppression of the Senate which will be replaced by Regional Councils, and a change of the national flag.

Those who fought for freedom from colonial France, which won its independent in 1960, will be better represented on a new flag by a red band at the top and bottom of the country's green national banner, representing the blood spilt for their nation.

The country's current green flag with a crescent and star symbolises the importance of Islam in the conservative republic but lawmakers believe the nation's independence struggle has not been adequately represented by the flag.

The text also provides for the abolition of the High Court of Justice, the Ombudsman of the Republic and the Islamic High Council.

It has not been announced when the Senate will vote on the changes.. If passed by both Houses of Parliament by a two-thirds majority, the text must be submitted to a parliamentary congress. Last month, Parliament began the special session in Nouakchott devoted mainly to examining constitutional changes. These amendments were adopted during a dialogue between the government and the so-called moderate opposition late last year.

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