Messaoud Ould Boulkheir
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|Messaoud Ould Boulkheir|
|مسعود ولد بو الخير|
|President of the National Assembly|
27 April 2007
|Preceded by||Rachid Ould Saleh|
|Born||1943 (age 73–74)
Fara El Kitane, Mauritania, French West Africa
|Political party||People's Progressive Alliance|
Messaoud Ould Boulkheir (Arabic: مسعود ولد بو الخير, born 1943, Fara El Kitane Arabic: فرع الكتان) is among the first Haratine to become a political leader in Mauritania. Messaoud also contributed significantly to the end of the 1989 events in Mauritania, protecting the right of the victims and the emancipation of the Haratine in Mauritania with his party.
Family and childhood
Messaoud Ould Boulkheir was born around 1943; the date is unclear because at that time the birth registration service was unknown. Messaoud’s parents were slaves, but were living independently because they were not directly dependent on their masters. Like most Haratine at that time, his family was subsisted on agriculture, cattle farm and picking fruits. His father also hunted.
Messaoud family was not as large as like other Haratine families. It was composed of his father, mother, elder sister and three brothers of whom Messaoud was the second. Messaoud also lived with his two grandmothers, one maternal uncle who was older than his mother and one paternal aunt who was younger than his father. The Messaoud Family lived under a black tent with some domestic animals (sheep and goats). The family of Messaoud ould Boulkheir could be considered rebellious, since they were not submissive as other Haratine were to their master. The masters of Messaoud’s family were called “Ahel Taleb Ethmane community”.
Messaoud’s mother had taken care of the family until the older sister of her master got married by the Chief of the Ahel Taleb Community. Messaoud’s mother thought that the queen of the community would help her. In contrast to what she thought, the queen of the community was jealous of her and was helping her cousins who ignored her when her family was in a difficult situation. One night, the queen of the community sent her cousin to the Messaoud ould Boulkheir family tent to destroy it and to beat her mother. The queen’s cousins had burned the Messaoud ould Boulkheir tent, destroying everything, took her jewelries and beat Messaoud’s mother until thinking that she was dead. They left the place with a lot of blood and fire. After surviving this event, Messaoud’s mother went directly with her dress covered with blood, to the French colonial administration in Nema to complain. Generally, the colonial administration does not take any part of the problems of the slaves with their masters. After the colonial administrator saw her covered with blood and harmed, they decided to help her. The colonial administration asked for the restitution and reimbursement of all of the things the masters had destroyed and taken and to freed Messaoud’s mother and her family. They suggested that Messaoud’s mother to stay in the city of Nema to avoid this kind of attack. But she refused because she wanted to live in her community and to be respected there. The Messaoud family became the first Haratine family in Mauritania to become free and to live equally in the same community as their ancient masters the Beydhan. Messaoud’s mother died in October 1953.
Messaoud Ould Boulkheir started his primary school in 1950. At that time every family was obligated send one of their sons or daughters to school. Most of the Beydhan did not want to send their children to school because they thought that the French schools were giving their children a Catholic education. Messaoud was sent to a French school because the Ahel Taleb Ethmane family (the masters of the Messaoud family) did not want to send their children to school. It was an obligation to send at least one child in each family. The Ahel Taleb Ethmane family preferred to send one of their slave’s sons who were Messaoud ould Boulkheir. Messaoud’s mother complained and refused, but a woman of the city, who had been to French school, advised her that it was a good idea to send him to school. Messaoud became the first of the Ahel Taleb Ethmane family to go to school. Messaoud left the community to go to the city (Nema) to study; he was living with his community correspondent in Nema who was a woman from another community who was unkind to him. Messaoud missed a lot the love and the protection of his mother and family. Messaoud changed his correspondent to find love and protection from another correspondent. Messaoud was a good student in his primary school. However, the teachers of his school were beating the pupils dangerously. That motivated Messaoud to take his studies seriously. But the death of his parents affected him a lot during his primary studies because no one was there to support him. After these events, Messaoud abandoned his Muslim faith until 1967 when he was 24 years old and he resumed the practice of Islam. Messaoud ould Boulkheir obtained his primary studies certificate in 1956. He started his secondary studies in 1957 at the “College Xavier Coppolani” (Secondary school) in Rosso in the southwest of Mauritania. Messaoud did not study there for a long time because with the freedom of the secondary school, he was missing many classes to profit of what he did not get in his primary school. He failed his first secondary year and in 1960 he was dismissed from the school. Messaoud assumed his dismiss but he is sure that if he was a Beydhan, he would not have been dismissed. At the same time that he was dismissed Messaoud lost his only older sister who was struck under their tent. His older sister had been taking care of the family after the death of Messaoud’s parents. She left her two young daughters (three and one years old). With all these problems, shame, deception and humiliation, Messaoud was lost and he even thought about ending his life to run away from these difficult situations. Messaoud did not even know how he overcame this situation with his dismissal from school, which was a synonym to death for him. After these events, Messaoud was alone without anybody; he realized that his only solution was to fight for his right or to perish. Messaoud was too young at that time and he knew that the only way that he could achieve his goals was to have trust and to impose himself in the society. To achieve that Messaoud needed to be very serious, efficient, honest, and right and to overcome all the difficulties in his life. Messaoud is a former slave who wants to affront the Beydhan in the society; this was the most difficult thing for Messaoud. Messaoud’s favorite hobbies were to read and to listen to the radio. In 1958, he was a benevolent secretary of the “Cercle of Nema” (colonial administration). Messaoud was in charge of registering mailings, typing the non-confidential mails. In December 1959, there was a national competition to recruit secretaries of administration. However, the minimum age for the competition was eighteen years old. Messaoud participated with the help of the commandant of the colonial administration of Nema as he was not old enough.
Administrative career and positions
In 1960, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir was admitted and transferred to Atar the region the most dangerous city and populated by the Beydhan in majority who were exploiting, capturing and selling Haratines (slave). Messaoud was happy about his competition and scared to go to Atar. In July 1960, Messaoud arrived at Atar; he met the commandant of the colonial administrator who was at that time French. A few months later, Mauritania gained its independence from France in November 1960. The colonial administration became administrated by the Beydhan or the negro-Africans (Fulani, Soninke, and Wolof). Messaoud came under the direction of the Beydhan because they were directing the ancient colonial administration. In 1962 he was transferred to Boghe and Aleg in the south of the country until 1968. Then, Messaoud moved to Aioun el atrouss from 1968 to 1969. He also was transferred to Tichit in 1969 to 1970; Messaoud suffered many difficulties because he was Haratine who was working in the administrations run by the Beydhan who made things difficult for him because he was too young. From 1964 to 1965 he did an internship to promote his level to redactor of Administration, in which he was the major. Five years later he was transferred to Maghama and Gorgol in which he was under the direction of his internship classmate who was a Beydhan. After a long fight for the right to have a good position, the government sent him as a chief of district of Temessoumitt in the department of Moundjeria which was not populated and was without water. After being informed of the conflict between Messaoud and his boss, the government decided to transfer him to Ouadane in Adrar in the desert. Ouadane was better than Temessoumitt because the region was more populated. In April 1975, Messaoud was contacted by the Interior Minister, to come to Nouakchott (administrative capital of Mauritania) for a professional formation of cities administrator in which he would be promoted to City Administrator. In Nouakchott, Messaoud heard that there was another national competition for the Public Administration Certificate that was more efficient than City administrator. Messaoud decided to do the two competitions at the same time but he needed the permission of the interior minister. The interior minister contacted Messaoud and told him that he could not do the two competitions at the same time because he did think that Messaoud would not succeed due to the fact that Messaoud was a Haratine. Messaoud told the minister that he could do it and the minister decided that if Messaoud failed the public administration certificate he would no longer work in the government; the minister requested a signed letter from Messaoud. Messaoud agreed to the contract and knew that he was taking a huge risk. Four months later, Messaoud was the third of his promotion for the public administration certificate and the first of the professional formation for city administrator. After the results of the competition, Messaoud was promoted Assistant of the governor of Nouakchott in charge of administrative cases. Three months later, Messaoud was promoted Executive Administrator of Rosso (in the south of Mauritania). In 1981, Messaoud was nominated the governor of Gorgol and Guidimakha (regions) for four years. In 1984, Messaoud the first Haratine entered in the Mauritanian government as minister of rural development. 
Political parties and achievements
Beginning in 1962, Messaoud has started fighting against slavery and the emancipation of the Haratine in Mauritania. Messaoud in his fights again slavery was influenced by the inequality problems in the United States and South Africa. While Messaoud was preparing his Public Administration certificate, he met other Haratines at ENA (National School of Administration) who wanted to fight for their emancipation. In 1978, they created the secret organization “El HOR” which means Organization for the emancipation of Haratine. The creation of this party contributed a lot for the Haratines in Mauritania because a lot of Haratines joined the party. The party was protecting the right of the Haratine by creating small unit of agents in the organization who would stop the trade and the mistreating of the Haratines by the Beydhanes. EL-HOR created a revolution in the country which leads in 1981 to the abolition of slavery in Mauritania. EL HOR was growing and becoming very powerful that is why in 1989 it became officially recognize with Messaoud as leader. They were part of the municipal election in 1989 and they supported the negro-Africans during the 1989 civil war between the Beydhan and the negro-Africans. The government created a lot of problems for the EL HOR party by arresting and torturing its leaders, that is why in 1990 Messaoud created the FUDC (United democratic forces for change). He participated in the creation of UFD (United democratic forces) in 1992 which regrouped all political leaders (Beydhan, Haratine, and negro-Africans) but Messaoud left the party because the leader was a Beydhan. In 1995, he created his own party called AC (action for changes) which regrouped Haratine into a majority. AC was dissolved by the government because of the truth they were telling to the Mauritanians about the government and its membership growth because the Haratines compose about fifty percent of Mauritanian population. Messaoud ended by creating the People's Progressive Alliance (APP), his current political party. 
Boulkheir was a candidate in the presidential election of November 7, 2003, taking fourth place with about 5% of the vote. On November 8, together with the opposition candidates Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla and Ahmed Ould Daddah, he alleged fraud and urged the people to reject the results.
On January 20, 2007, following the ouster of President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya in the August 2005 military coup d'état, Boulkheir announced his candidacy in the March 2007 presidential election. In the election, held on March 11, he placed fourth, receiving 9.79% of the vote. On March 19, he backed Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi for the second round, despite the fact that he was part of the Coalition of the Forces for Democratic Change along with the other second round candidate, Ahmed Ould Daddah. Abdallahi won the election, and on April 26, 2007, Boulkheir was elected as President of the National Assembly, receiving 91 votes from the 93 deputies present.
On September 2, 2007, Boulkheir said that the APP would not join a new party being formed to support Abdallahi; according to Boulkheir, this initiative would harm pluralism and be a move back to a single-party dominant system.
Following the August 2008 military coup d'état, in which Abdallahi was ousted, Boulkheir said on August 10, 2008 that he still recognized Abdallahi as President and rejected the junta's plans to hold a new election. The APP took part in a four-party alliance opposing the coup, called the National Front for the Defence of Democracy (FNDD), along with Abdallahi's party, the National Pact for Democracy and Development (PNDD-ADIL).
In October 2008, Boulkheir called for a solution to the situation that would involve Abdallahi returning to the presidency for only the limited period necessary to organize an early presidential election. Boulkheir's proposal would also involve the formation of a government of national unity during that period.
The National Assembly opened for its first regular session since the coup on November 10, 2008 (it had previously held a special session). Remaining in opposition to the coup, which was supported by a parliamentary majority, Boulkheir boycotted the session. On April 8, 2009, Boulkheir participated in an FNDD protest in Nouakchott against the planned June 2009 presidential election, denouncing the "unilateral electoral agenda of the putschists" and warning that "neither tanks, nor guns nor live bullets can stop our fight against the usurpation of power by force".
- AHME (October 2003). Interview de Messaoud Ould Boulkheir a L’occasion des elections presidentielles 2003. Retrieved March 24, 2006 from http://www.haratine.com/interview2.htm
- Afrique Press (2002, January 02). Mauritanie. Evénement de 1989, Le premier ministre accuse un groupe de l’opposition. Retrieved March 25, 2006 from http://www.afrique-express.com/archive/OUEST/mauritaniepol/242evenements
- Afrique Press (2002, January 01).Et de deux le gouvernement décide la dissolution du parti d’opposition Action pour le Changement. Retrieved March 23, 2006 from,http://www.afrique-press.com/archive/OUEST/mauritanie/mauritaniepol/243disolution
- Panapress (2004, July 27).Messaoud ould boulkheir déçu par le ‘syndicat des chefs d’état’. Retrieved March 23, 2006 from http://www.panapress.com/newslatf.asp?code=fre053379&dte=27/07/2004
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