Don't Miss

Mauritania gears up for elections

By on July 18, 2009

Mauritania is gearing up for its first presidential election since a military coup in August 2008 on Saturday.

The man who led that coup, Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, is seen as the front-runner, along with veteran opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah.

Mauritanian journalist Hamdi el-Hacen says the elections have been the most hotly contested in some time.

Hours before voting began, there were reports of shooting between police and armed men in the capital, Nouakchott.

Police sources said one man was injured in the exchange of fire and was threatening to detonate an explosives belt.

The man was reported to be surrounded by security forces. Police said another man involved in the shooting had fled the scene.

Mauritania has been led by a democratically elected leader for just one year since independence in 1960.

The desert nation has experienced several military coups and long periods of oppressive rule.

The 2007 elections won by President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in 2007 are widely seen as the country’s only free and fair poll but he was toppled just a year later by Gen Abdelaziz.

Following the coup, it was suspended by the African Union and many donors suspended aid. Mr el-Hacen told the BBC’s Network Africa programme that the campaigning has been vigorous but tolerant.

“It was very interesting to see people supporting different candidates standing alongside one another without any hatred, or quarrelling,” he said.

Although the country is officially an Islamic republic, Mohamed Jamil Ould Mansour is the first Islamist to stand for the presidency.

The largely-desert country presents a cultural contrast, with an Arab-Berber population to the north and black Africans to the south. Many of its people are nomads.

During their campaigns, the contestants highlighted unemployment, illiteracy, poverty and poor infrastructure as their priorities.

“The country has been independent for 46 years but it is almost naked of any modern infrastructure,” said Mr el-Hacen.

He says citizens are anxious to see how the desperate poverty, which he says affects more than half of the population will be alleviated.


About AfricaTimes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.