Mauritanian vote off to slow start

2014-06-21 18:07
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nouakchott - Small groups of voters trickled into polling centres in Mauritania early on Saturday in an election where incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was counting on a high turnout to see off an opposition boycott and boost his authority.

Abdel Aziz - an ally of Western powers in the fight against al Qaeda-linked Islamists in West Africa - is sure to win the poll in the desert nation straddling black and Arab Africa.

The bulk of the opposition boycotted last year's parliamentary elections - saying the organisers were biased and the process flawed - and talks to try to persuade them to take part in Saturday's vote broke down in April.

That left Abdel Aziz with no major rivals.

"Anyone can see that these [opposition] parties are void of any content and no longer even have a political role to play, reflecting the level of their leaders," Abdel Aziz, a former head of the presidential guard told reporters after voting.

Analysts believe the incumbent's main challenge will be to persuade enough voters to take part in the presidential vote and give him a strong mandate.

In the first hours of voting, turnout appeared low, even at major polling stations in the capital Nouakchott.

"There aren't too many people voting now because it's early in the morning and it's the weekend," Toinssi Cheikh, a trader, told Reuters after voting at the largely empty polling station at the Olympic Stadium in the city centre.

"By 15:00 or 16:00 you will see more people voting," he said.

The four challengers left in the field are former government minister Boidel Ould Houmeid; Ibrahima Sarr, a challenger from the 2009 vote; Mint Moulaye Idriss, an administrator at Mauritania's national press agency and the only woman in the race; and anti-slavery campaigner Biram Ould Abeid.

Mauritania officially abolished slavery in 1980, but human rights experts say it remains one of the few countries in the world where the practice still exists.

"My candidacy, as I've always said, is a break with the past," Ould Abeid said after he voted. "Like Nelson Mandela in South Africa who brought hope to the blacks and like Barack Obama in the USA, I will be the first black slave descendant president in Mauritania."

The country has reserves of iron ore, copper and gold and is trying to boost investor interest in its oil and gas. However, it has long been plagued by political instability and military coups.

Abdel Aziz came to power in August 2008 when he ousted President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi, the country's first democratically elected president, whose short stint as leader was undone by fighting within his own party.

He then won a 5-year term in a 2009 poll that was heavily criticised by the opposition, some of whom still do not recognise the legitimacy of his election.

Western nations soon re-engaged with Mauritania's military, which has taken a strong stand against Islamist groups in the country and neighbouring Mali.

Abdel Aziz sent his army, considered one of the most effective in West Africa, to carry out military strikes against Islamist bases in neighbouring Mali in 2010 and 2011.

Read more on:    mohamed ould abdel aziz  |  mauritania  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.