The government of Mauritania has created a new force to aid its fight against guerrillas of the Algerian-backed Polisaria Front in the Sahara desert.
SV Men and women at parade ground in Nouakchott
CU Madame Mariem Daddah, wife of President Moktar Ould Daddah
CU & SV Servicemen and women (5 shots)
SV A military chief talking to Madame Daddah
SV Servicemen and women marching away, PAN TO Madame Daddah with military chief
SV PAN Servicemen and women marching away (2 shots)
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Background: The government of Mauritania has created a new force to aid its fight against guerrillas of the Algerian-backed Polisaria Front in the Sahara desert. A national body of military-trained civilians has been set up, with units in all regions of the country. Its inauguration was marked recently (13 October) by a parade of 50 volunteers before military chiefs at a sports stadium in the capital of Nouakchott.
SYNOPSIS: The importance of the force to Mauritania, and the value of recruiting both men and women, is stressed by the appointment of the President's wife, Madame Mariem Daddah, as Commander of Unite Number One. The country's second unit, too, will be led by a woman -- Madame Vivi Mint Feiji, Secretary-General of the Women's Party of Nouakchott. Each unit will comprise 25 volunteers led by a commander and two aides. All will receive military training from army instructors.
Mauritania has been troubled by guerrilla activity since it divided the former Spanish Sahara in 1975 with Morocco. The Algerian-backed Polisario Front refused to accept the agreement and concentrated its attacks on Mauritania rather than the better-defended Morocco. Mauritania's defence has been made more difficult because its army was reduced in the last decade to only about 2,200 men. In July guerrillas raided Nouakchott while President Moktar Ould Daddah was in Gabon for an African summit conference.