Tensions are brewing in Mauritania threatening regional stability, following elections which opposition groups are claiming has been rigged.
Mauritanian opposition parties demanded, on the evening of May 14th, that the results of the parliamentary, local and regional elections in the capital, Nouakchott, be cancelled, due to what they claim is “tampering with the voting process”.
Their demand was made at a joint press conference in Nouakchott by the parties: the Rally of Democratic Forces, the Union of the Forces of Progress, the National Rally for Reform and Development, Al-Sawab, the People’s Progressive Alliance and the Alliance for Justice and Democracy.
The opposition stressed the need to also cancel the election results in polling stations in other regions, “where the polling process has been tampered with,” without specifying the number of these stations.
In fact, results from the first round of voting were expected within 48 hours of poll closings. A second round is scheduled for May 27 for half of the 176 National Assembly seats.
Mohamed Ghazouani, 66, is a general considered one of the main architects of Mauritania‘s success against jihadism, in his former role as army chief.
The country’s population is divided between Arab-Berber Moors, Afro-Mauritanian descendants of slaves, and other groups of sub-Saharan African origin.
Ghazouani made the fight against poverty one of his priorities, carrying out an ambitious social programme that has included distributing food and money to the poorest.
The opposition announced the formation of “a high-level crisis committee that will remain in a state of permanent meeting to follow up on developments and take the necessary decisions.”
The opposition blamed the authorities and the National Elections Commission for the “violations and tampering that took place, which will have a major impact on the course of political and democratic life in the country and the repercussions that may result from it.”
It noted that the Elections Commission “has completely failed in its national mission,” adding that “the commission illegally expelled many party representatives from polling stations.”
As of 23:56 GMT, there has been no comment from the Independent National Elections Commission or the government on what was issued by the opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Elections Commission continues to announce limited results for the elections, which took place on Saturday May 13th with the participation of 25 parties, while the commission is expected to announce preliminary results on Monday.
Earlier, on Sunday, the spokesman for the Independent National Elections Commission, Muhammad Taqi Allah Al-Adham, said in a statement that “out of the 4,728 polling stations across the country, 949 centres have been counted so far (15:00 GMT), or 20 per cent.”
Partial results were expected to be announced on Sunday evening, but the slow process of counting votes may delay the announcement of partial results until Monday, according to observers.
On Saturday morning, polling stations were opened to Mauritanian voters, who total 1,700,448 voters, to choose between 559 lists competing for 176 seats in Parliament.
The number of lists running for the regional elections reached 145 lists competing for 13 regional councils, while the number of lists running for municipalities reached 1,378 lists, competing for 238 local councils.