Party Leader Says Islamist Trend is Fact in Mauritania, Other Countries
Excerpt from interview with President of the National Rally for Reform and Development in Mauritania Jamil Ould Mansour by Abdallah al-Rashidi. Interview held in
[Rashidi] At the outset, I want to ask: what is the orientation of the National Rally for Reform and Development? How does it function in politics, and what are its justifications for participation in the Mauritanian political life?
[Mansour] The National Rally for Reform and Development is a Mauritanian political party with an Islamic term reference. This is the way we present the party. It is a party that belongs to the moderate Islamic school which is spearheaded by the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] group.
The party is an attempt to present a political perception that is based on the Islamic term reference for resolving
We have chosen the name of the National Rally for Reform and Development. It has been less than one year since the party was formed. It was formed on
[Rashidi] When we talk about the Mauritanian political scene, where would you place your party within this scene?
[Mansour] The Mauritanian political scene consists of three levels. The first level is giving names to the national parties. These parties have no united ideology or doctrine. They are open parties. This description can basically be applied to two parties: the ruling party and the opposition Union of Democratic Forces. The second level are parties that represent schools of thought. On top of these parties is the National Rally for Reform and Development, which represents the Islamic school of thought despite the fact that it is an open party. The third level are the parties of individuals, and there are many of them in the country.
Generally speaking, we can say that since our party is the main representative of the Islamic trend, it has achieved progress in the areas of membership, growth and expression. All this has been possible with the help of God. Our party has managed to grow although there are parties that are bigger and more influential.
[Rashidi] What is the difference between the religious term reference and the political action in the perception of your party, i.e. the relationship between the Religious Da”wa and political action?
[Mansour] The truth of the matter is that the National Rally for Reform and Development is strictly speaking a political party with an Islamic term reference. This type of party has already appeared in more than one Arab and Muslim country. Therefore, it distinguishes but does not separate the religious Da”wa from political action. The party sees itself as the entity that enforces the Islamic perception in the political field, that runs public affairs and policies, and that offers political solutions to the national issues. [Passage omitted, saying the closest political movement to the ideology of the party is the al-Mustqbal society for culture and education]
[Rashidi] What is the nature of the relationship linking the National Rally for Reform and Development with the various Mauritanian political parties and the ruling regime?
[Mansour] Since the outset, we declared that we are stretching our hands to all the national parties for the sake of cooperation. We have good and constructive relations with the various national political parties, whether they are participating in government or in the opposition. These relations qualify us to play positive roles towards the various parties which do not always have friendly relations.
Our national congress has not deviated from this line. We have invited the various national political leaders to the congress. We have also launched many initiatives in the political arena on the combat of corruption and anti normalization of relations with
[Rashidi] You have participated in the second government of
[Mansour] Nearly one year after its political performance in parliament, the National Rally for Reform and Development was classified as an opposition party. We called it counselling, balanced and responsible opposition, or the moderate opposition. We tried as much as possible to offer a political experiment that is different from the acute struggle which usually exists between the government and the opposition.
It followed that after this phase, the prime minister offered us to participate in the government. After an elaborate discussion, we were convinced that we should participate with the aim of strengthening the reformist trend in government, contributing to ending the hesitation over the breaking off relations with the Zionist entity, searching for practical means to run the government and embark on reform.
We participated in the government on the basis of the foregoing philosophy. We held two important portfolios. One was higher education and scientific research. The other was employment and professional training. However, suddenly, a crisis broke out at the top between the military and the president. The crisis undermined the stability of the regime itself and is still threatening the future of democracy in the country. Some members of the ruling majority declared that former opposition political parties should not be represented in the new cabinet.
Thus we found ourselves outside the government because of a crisis which we were never happy with. We are outside the realm of power at the present time. However, we will continue the line to which we made society accustomed. It is a responsible political line that makes responsible criticism. We are not vindictive in our opposition. If we participate in the government once again, we will certainly not justify government policies. [Passage omitted noting that democracy in
[Rashidi] Political parties with an Islamic term reference have opted for democracy. Is this a tactical option linked with the fragility of the country or is it a strategic option?
[Mansour] We were clear in the political perception of the party when we said that the democratic option for us is a strategic, not a tactical option. We have settled this question decisively from the ideological standpoint before settling it politically. We view democracy as an additional political asset to the political thought of mankind and that it is fit to be used as a framework for the reform of political life. We have no objections to introducing democracy to the systematic Islamic system in general.
[Rashidi] The question of normalization of relations with the Zionist entity is a very controversial question in
[Mansour] We have held the leadership of the battle against normalization and most Mauritanian political parties have been involved in this battle. There was a consensus to reject normalization of relations with the Zionist entity. This consensus still exists. The new regime has always promised to submit the question to the Mauritanian people at the right time. Whenever the regime does so, the people are ready to say their word. I believe that the Mauritanian people have won this battle on the moral and political levels. We are waiting for the impact of this action on the practical level, by breaking off relations with
[Rashidi] What is the nature of your relationship with the other issues of the nation, such as
[Mansour] Our party is known as the voice of our Islamic World in
[Rashidi] If the Mauritanian people ever give you a mandate to run the government, what will be the platform that you will present to them?
[Mansour] We will offer them our platform that was published at the party”s website on the Internet. It consists of a series of economic, legal, political, cultural and social proposals. If they need any kind of counselling, advice or details, we will offer them a platform not a religious document. [Passage omitted commending the ability of the Mauritanian people to learn and act quickly]
[Rashidi] The policy of the
[Mansour] We know that the policy of the
Generally speaking, the Islamic political trend in the Arab and Islamic worlds does need the
Originally published by Ikhwanonline website,