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Mauritania Flag Change Proposal (2016-2017)

Last modified: 2017-12-26 by rob raeside
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[Mauritania flag change proposal] image by Zachary Harden, 13 March 2017

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Flag change proposal (2016)

The ruling party in Mauritania, Union pour la République (UPR), has proposed to amend the national flag by the addition of a thin red stripe at the top and bottom. The stripes symbolize "the efforts and sacrifices that the people of Mauritania will keep consenting, to the price of their blood, to defend their territory".

The proposal was part of a more general project of institutional reform presented during the Conference on Inclusive Dialogue. Inaugurated on 29 September 2010, the conference rallied the ruling party and the "moderate" opposition, here the Alliance populaire progressiste (APP), while the "radical" opposition refused to join. The proposed reform also included the adoption of a new national anthem and the proclamation of the Second Republic. Observers quickly pointed out that the Constitution would be automatically invalidated, especially the Articles prohibiting the President of the Republic to run for a third mandate. The second mandate of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2014) should end in 2019; the announcement of the reform, accordingly, was probably not a mere coincidence. The suspicion of "Constitutional coup" was confirmed by a declaration of the government's spokesperson, Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheikh, who said that "mandate limitation was an anti-democratic principle". This statement prompted Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, the historical leader of the APP, to withdraw in the beginning of October from the conference, which he called a "farce". - Points Chauds Online, 8 October 2016 - 9 October 2016
Ivan Sache, 17 October 2016

At the Council of Ministers approved the draft constitutional law to change the national flag, the national anthem and abolish the Senate. This was later to be sent to the people, which was first cancelled on December 30th, 2016, then reissued on 22 March 2017.
Zachary Harden, 22 August 2017

La reports:
The Mauritanian National Assembly adopted Thursday a bill of constitutional review including the abolition of the Senate and the change of the national flag, found the AFP correspondent. The draft submitted by the Government "has been adopted by the majority of 147 MPs present", "121 voted in favour of the text, 19 against," said Mohamed Ould Beilil, president of the National Assembly, dominated by the presidential party. The radical opposition, represented by the Forum national unity and democracy (FNDU), which consisted of 15 Parties, voted against the Bill after leading a campaign against its adoption. The text approved Thursday by the MPs, which amends the Constitution in force since 1991, includes a deletion of the Senate, replaced by regional councils, and a change of the national flag. Two red ribbons, symbolizing the blood shed by the "martyrs of the resistance", will be added to the Crescent and the yellow star on a green background on this flag already.

The text also provides for the removal of the High Court of Justice, the Ombudsman of the Republic and the high Islamic Council. It must then be submitted to the Senate for approval, at a date that has not been indicated. If it is adopted by each of the two houses of Parliament by a majority of two-thirds, the text should be submitted to a parliamentary Congress. The power is largely majority in the rooms.

Two amendments to the draft Thursday, by a member of the moderate opposition, Malouma Mint Bilal, for a maintenance of the High Court of justice and the current national flag, were rejected. Members of the majority strongly hailed adoption of the text, giving himself accolades to the outcome of the vote by secret ballot. The radical opposition tried Tuesday to hold a rally in front of the National Assembly, but its activists, who carried signs denouncing a "tinkering" of the Constitution, were dispersed by the police. The FNDU denounced in a statement "blind repression" on its activists that some were, according to him, injured. Parliament began on 22 February in Nouakchott the special session essentially devoted to the review of constitutional amendments.

These amendments had been arrested during a dialogue between power and opposition known as moderate in September-October 2016.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 11 March 2017

Websites at,
and have given more details about the stripe ratio. Each stripe is 15% of the flag's width (15/70/15) but so far I cannot confirm the sizes of the crescent and star or any other specifics. The law in question is Constitutional Project Law 118/17. Attached is the revised flag that will most likely become the new national flag.
Zachary Harden, 13 March 2017

Several photos have been published that show the Minister of Defence showing what the proposed flag looks like for those looking to vote on the issue.
    Photo 1    Photo 2
    Photo 3    Photo 4
Jason Saber, 13 March 2017

The proposal was passed by the National Assembly on Thursday [9 March 2017]. The report sent by Nozomi spelt out that it will also need to be passed by the Senate, and then to the two houses in congress.

Ivan's report from 2016 said that the constitutional changes would be going to a referendum. The constitution allows a referendum after a bill has passed both houses of parliament with a 2/3 majority, or alternatively, the president can present it to the parliament in congress. The referendum has apparently been abandoned in favour of this alternative, ostensibly to save money. [The requirement when a proposed change goes to such a joint session is 3/5 majority - less than needed to go to a referendum to start with. So in this circumstance, it should be a rubber stamp.]
Jonathan Dixon, 13 March 2017

The amendment to Mauritania's constitution, which would abolish the Senate and change the national flag, will be put to a referendum "as quickly as possible," the president said on Wednesday [22 March 2017].
Nozomi Kariyasu, 25 March 2017

The Commission électorale nationale indépendante in Mauritania has reported that Saturday's referendum to add red bars at the top and bottom of the Mauritanian flag has passed with an 85.67% yes vote (turnout 53.72%). The other referendum about wider constitutional changes including abolishing the Senate had a similar outcome.

Some opposition groups who had urged a boycott of the referendum rejected the results before they were announced.

I have seen some comments suggesting the flag change will come into effect as soon as results are proclaimed, but I don't have a reliable source for that.
Jonathan Dixon, 7 August 2017

The national anthem change was adopted by the National Assembly on March 9th at but I have not seen anything else since that date (other articles talking about the anthem are coming up as 404 online).
Zachary Harden, 8 August 2017

According to news reports such as, the constitutional changes, including the change to the flag, were published by the president on 15 August 2017.
Jonathan Dixon
, 20 August 2017

The 15th August news came from the Constitutional Council and it certified the results of the 5th August vote ( by the President of the Constitutional Council, Me. Sghair Ould M'Bareck. The article states that the results are going to be published in the "Journal Officiel de la République Islamique de Mauritanie" (Government/Official Gazette of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania) and I am thinking the design/specifications of the flag will be published there, accordingly.
Zachary Harden, 21 August 2017

According to, the bill to approve the description of the national flag (Projet de loi portant description du drapeau de la République Islamique de Mauritanie) was addressed and approved by the Council of Ministers on August 24th. Unfortunately, I cannot find a text of this law and the Official Journal is not published online.
Zachary Harden, 24 August 2017

The parliament of Mauritania has started yesterday its discussion about altering the flag. The bill to change the flag is called Projet de loi n°136/17, portant description du drapeau de la République Islamique de Mauritanie.
For more information:
Jos Poels, 6 October 2017

A year ago the president of Mauritania launched his plan to change the flag of his country. He is nearly at his goal. Last week the parliament of Mauritania adopted Bill 136/17 to change the flag. See for more information:
The president himself is the last hurdle. He has to sign this bill into law. Then it will be published in the Government Gazette and Mauritania has its new flag.
Jos Poels, 17 October 2017

I note that the AMI article says the flag will be raised for the first time on the anniversary of independence - presumably, 28 November.
Jonathan Dixon, 17 October 2017

Yesterday, on the 57th anniversary of its independence, Mauritania raised for the first time the new flag with red top and bottom. Video of the ceremony is available at
   After the raising (which was accompanied by the new national anthem), the president presents medals to a row of people in front of a soldier bearing some sort of ceremonial flag - the new national flag with fringe and what seems to be text on the red stripes.
Jonathan Dixon, 29 November 2017

The video is titled: "حفل رفع العلم بالذكرى 57 لعيد الاستقلال الوطني -بمدينة كيهيدي - قناة الموريتانية"(English: Flag-raising ceremony for
the 57th anniversary of the National Independence Day - Kehidi city - Mauritanian channel).

Also, as pointed out by Jonathan, there is indeed another ceremonial flag seen in the video, with an inscription in Arabic on the bottom red fringe as well as top as seen on 17:05 16:54, and 23:37 (mainly), written in gold. Perhaps the inscription on the bottom is the national
motto: شرف إخاء عدالة (English: Honor, Fraternity, Justice) and perhaps the inscription on top is the name of the country: الجمهورية الإسلامية الموريتانيةبمدينة (English: Islamic Republic of Mauritania ), as it is customary in this type of ceremonial flags. Also, during the ceremony, held every year on the same day (Mauritania's Independence Day, November 28), the top medals are awarded, and judging from the ribbon of the ones featured on the video, the medal in question is the "National Order of Merit" (the country's highest award) (official website:, currently unavailable).

For additional information go to Armée Nationale Mauritanienne (official website):
Esteban Rivera, 29 November 2017