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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Row over Mauritania weekend move
Mauritanian men and women
Some Mauritanians see the move as an attack on Islamic values
Opposition and religious leaders in the Islamic state of Mauritania have condemned the government's decision to stop Friday being a day off.

From next week, the weekend will be Saturday and Sunday, instead of Friday and Saturday at present.

Friday is a Muslim holy day and offices will still shut at midday, so people can go to the mosque and pray.

The government says bringing the country into line with other countries will save millions of dollars.

President Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya has also been strongly criticised for recognising Israel, and Islamic radicals were accused of being behind recent coup attempts.

Opposition leader Mohamed Ghoulam Ould Haj Seikh said: "This is a political decision aimed at improving the regime's image in the West." Communications Minister Hamoud Ould Abdi said: "Each year we lose US$70m... economic losses could be higher, now that we are entering the era of oil, gas and gold."

One of the world's poorest countries, Mauritania is poised to benefit from the exploitation of its offshore oil reserves.


SEE ALSO:
Woodside to pump Mauritania oil
31 May 04 |  Business
Country profile: Mauritania
20 Jul 04 |  Country profiles



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