Opposition parties in Mauritania say they reject official election results that give a win to Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a former defense minister and close ally of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who received 52 percent of the vote in the country’s presidential contest on Saturday.
The political tensions have left some candidates appealing for restraint from their supporters. “I call on the Mauritanian people not to give in to the attempt to divide orchestrated by the authorities,” said Biram Dah Abeid, an anti-slavery campaigner who came in second with 18.6 percent of Saturday’s vote.
“Our movement is peaceful, nonviolent and is based on national and international legality,” he said in a message late Monday. A protest march is planned for later this week.
Ghazouani’s victory, confirmed by Mauritania’s Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday, comes with just enough of a margin to clear the 50 percent threshold for an outright victory. A second round, if necessary, was planned for July.
Yet the CENI results come amid complaints over irregularities from opposition candidates including former prime minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, who came in third with 17.9 percent of the vote tally. He joined Abeid in rejecting the outcome and vowing to contest the results.
Abeid referred to the Ghazouani win as a kind of coup in a country where they have been common. Abdel Aziz has held office since taking power in a 2008 coup and then winning election in 2009, and again in 2014 with more than 80 percent of the vote. This election marked the first time that Mauritanian voters chose an elected successor to the current president.
Image: CENI Mauritania