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'Facebook Generation' continues Mauritania protests

By Mohamed Yahya Abdel Wedoud, For CNN
Mauritanians call for social and political reforms during demonstrations on Saturday in Nouakchott.
Mauritanians call for social and political reforms during demonstrations on Saturday in Nouakchott.
  • Young people claim they don't belong to political party
  • Protesters gather in Mauritania after a call for action on Facebook
  • Protesters call for social and political change
  • Peaceful demonstrations are held in the capital city, Nouakchott

Nouakchott, Mauritania (CNN) -- Young Mauritanians pushing for social and political reforms continued a sit-in Saturday in the capital a day after a street protest demanding change.

Police dispersed hundreds of protesters early Saturday, but after a few hours the crowd returned to spend the night at Blocat Square in Nouakchott's city center, despite one earlier arrest and the possibility of forces returning.

"The purpose of the youth demonstrations that we are leading (is) aimed at pushing the ruling regime to make urgent social, economic and political reforms for the sake of better life conditions," said protester Mohamed Ould Sidie. "We don't belong to any one of the political parties, and we don't want to.

"Mauritania is a very rich country, but unfortunately the huge riches of the country, including gold, oil, minerals, fish, are mismanaged by the corrupt, political regimes," said Sidi. "It's time to make a change."

Protesters carried banners calling for job creation, economic and political changes and an end to corruption.

The organizers declared the birth of what they called "Youth Coordination" and promised to continue the protests over the next days.

The call to action started last week on Facebook, which is said to be very popular in Mauritania, a journalist told CNN Friday.

Young protesters were surrounded by police during several hours of peaceful demonstrations Friday, according to reports.

The demonstrations were the first in Mauritania after weeks of demonstrations in other African nations and the Middle East.

Mauritania Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf said Thursday that people were free to protest peacefully, because "this is a democratic country," the journalist told CNN.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania borders the North Atlantic Ocean between Senegal and Western Sahara.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency website, half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood.