This book, the result of more than a decade of research, focuses on the socio-political dynamics and civil-military relations in a little studied country: Mauritania, located in the troubled North-western part of Africa. Boubacar N’Diaye brings into light the political evolution of this country which holds lessons for African politics, and could affect the future of the West African sub-region.

Mauritania’s Colonels examines the personalities and policy of five military officers turned heads of state who ruled Mauritania for nearly forty years. After comparing and contrasting the personal traits, social origins, itineraries, and evolution as military officers, it critically evaluates the policies they enacted to address four key challenges their country faces. These are, namely, the difficult cohabitation between the country’s ethno-cultural communities, the illusive democratization and military withdrawal from politics, the judicious management of the country’s abundant natural resources to meet the socioeconomic needs of their people, and the prudent conduct of foreign policy given Mauritania’s location, straddling Arab North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Showing the impact that each Colonel has had on the evolution of Mauritania, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of West Africa, African politics, civil-military relations and democratization processes.

chapter 1|9 pages


chapter 3|17 pages

Mauritania’s colonels

A portrayal

chapter 4|16 pages

Unworkable cohabitation

The “national question”

chapter 5|18 pages

Democratization and military withdrawal

chapter 6|17 pages

The challenge of socioeconomic development

chapter 7|20 pages

The colonels’ foreign policy

An extension of the “national question”?

chapter 8|18 pages