Mauritanians will probably extend President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s mandate in today’s first-round election as most opposition groups say they will boycott the vote because of concern it won’t be fair.
Abdel Aziz, 58, of the Union for the Republic faces four candidates, including independent Ibrahima Sarr, 65, and Lalla Mariem Mint Moulaye Idriss, 57, the second woman to run for the highest office. A coalition of 11 other opposition parties, including the Islamist party Tawassoul, pulled out of the election, citing a breakdown in talks with the government. Initial results are due within hours of polls closing.
The opposition’s “main point is that it is not a fairly contested process,” Geoffrey Howard, North Africa analyst at Control Risks Group, said by phone from London. This is an attempt to “give a cloak of democracy to what is essentially a pretty authoritarian regime.”