Mauritanians at the ballot box for a historic democratic transition | Africa | -

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Mauritania votes to elect a new president and appoint the successor of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. The outgoing head of state, who came to power through a putch and elections in 2009, can not run again. The Mauritanian Constitution limits the number of mandates to two.

The kick-off of this first round of the presidential election was given this Saturday morning when some 3,000 polling stations opened at 7:00 am local time.

The results are expected early next week.

The six opponents of Mohamed Ould Ghazouani Mohamed, the candidate of power, believe that a second round is inevitable. The latter is supported by the outgoing president and the majority parties. He will face Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, former Prime Minister supported by so-called moderate Islamists of Tawassoul, Biram Dah Abeid, MP, abolitionist activist, Mohamed Ould Maouloud, MP also, supported by the Changeons era coalition, Kane Hamidou Baba, of the Living Together coalition. And finally Mohamed Lemine El Mourteji, almost unknown to the political class.

"He will pass hands down"

What makes supporters of Mohamed Ould Ghazouani believe that he could win the ballot in the first round? His spokesman Sidi Ould Dowmane recalls "that it has the support of 130 of the 147 deputies in the National Assembly, the support of almost all the mayors, all the presidents of regional councils. "Our candidate", says the spokesperson, "will pass hands down in the first round. " Ould Dowmane refers to the results of the elections of September 2018. But for the opposition, this strong majority is explained by the lack of transparency.

A controversial INEC

For his part, Lo Gourmo Abdoul, spokesman for candidate Mohamed Ould Maouloud think that, if the election is held in full transparency, the opposition will win the presidential election. "Only massive fraud could hinder an opposition candidate from winning, either in the first round, and we sincerely believe that it is possible, either in the second round, " He says.

On the eve of the vote, opposition candidates had strong suspicions about transparency. They talk about the risk of large-scale fraud that I quote, "could be favored by a CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission) almost gained from the candidate of power."

The Ceni, say the activists of Ould Ghazouani, is composed of representatives of the opposition and the power who took part in a national dialogue.

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