May 28, 2023

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Mauritanians elect members of parliament and regional and local councils

Mauritanian voters went to the polls this morning (Saturday) for members of parliament and regional and local councils, but reports from political parties on the conduct of the elections were characterized by inconsistencies, while the opposition described them as “total chaos”. And talked about “violations”.

Turnout appeared uneven at polling stations across the country’s regions. While turnout was moderate to weak in some parts of the capital, Nouakchott, it was heavy in other parts of the country, particularly in the eastern governorates. The population is dense and the influence of the ruling party increases.

Mauritanians voted in large numbers at polling stations in the capital, Nouakchott (AFP).

The elections were held amid tight security amid fears of any violent incidents like the 2019 presidential election riots. Most of the voters arrived in front of the Olympic complex an hour before the start of voting. Nouakchott, one of Mauritania’s largest polling stations, was packed with people, women and young people who were experiencing voting for the first time in their lives and who were enthusiastic about the idea, but the delay and complexity of voting started to dampen their enthusiasm.

Active Participation of Women in Mauritanian Elections (Asharq Al-Awsad)

The complexity of the elections slowed down the voting process; Each voter must vote on six different ballot papers, four of which are parliamentary and two regional and local, before placing them in six different boxes. Despite this slowdown, the Independent National Elections Commission announced that the participation rate reached 18 percent in the afternoon, a percentage taken from data obtained from about 450 polling stations from various regions, according to a statement by the commission’s official spokesperson, Muhammad Daki. Allah al-Adam affirmed that “initial information indicates that the process is going smoothly.”

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Regarding the delay in opening some polling stations to voters, Al-Adam said, “The committee has decided to extend the voting period with the same delay in polling stations that open late beyond the specified time, but he did not disclose the number of late polling stations.”

The opposition “National Rally for Reform and Development” party accused the supervisory board of “failure” hours after the polls began, and said in a statement that it had “handed over the entire elections to a particular political party.” (Insaf) party and its influence at home.”

The party, which leads the opposition, said it had recorded “violations” in several cities, most of which involved delays in opening polling stations, lack of technical equipment and the expulsion of opposition representatives. Four polling stations, due to what he said were “major violations”.

After he cast his vote, Hammadi Ould Sidi al-Mokhtar, head of the opposition “Tawasul” party, said that in the first two hours of voting they had “recorded total chaos and major violations, and if the elections continue this way, in this chaos, we will have a position that we will decide later. “It’s ridiculous if it goes this way.

For its part, the opposition “Etakadol” party said it had recorded “irregularities and illegal practices in several areas of the Independent Election Commission”. Massoud Ould Belkhir, the head of the opposition “Progressive People’s Alliance” party, without giving details of the violations, said he had difficulty voting “due to the difficulty of knowing the polling station where he was registered” and added that “the election will run smoothly and it will be far from any fraud.” Believes. . .

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For his part, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Sheikh Al-Qazwani said after his vote: “I would like to express my appreciation for the great effort of the Independent National Elections Commission and its monitoring to properly organize these elections, in accordance with the letter and spirit of our country’s historic political agreement, to the government and the political parties. What happened in between ».

During the two-week election campaign, Ould Al-Gazwani added: “The politicians have said their word, and now we are all waiting for the word of the citizen who has the conditions to vote freely and openly.”

Old al-Qaswani explained that the government “insisted from day one that these elections should be successful,” noting that it had provided all necessary material and logistical requirements and had signed agreements with political parties as a partner in organizing the elections. , and it spent a billion old ounces (US$3 million) to support parties in elections.

Groups of foreign visitors were seen touring some of the polling offices in the capital, including the mission of the African Union in addition to the US embassy led by US Ambassador to Mauritania Cynthia Kircht. EU mission in Mauritania.

The US ambassador visited several offices in the Olympic complex, asking questions of office-bearers and representatives of political parties, apart from some voters, while his aides took notes.

These elections are held in accordance with a political agreement between the political parties and the Mauritanian Ministry of the Interior, which includes new reforms, the most important of which is the acceptance and acceptance of proportionality in the elections of all regional and local councils. In an election for half of the members of parliament, the population is expected to favor smaller political parties. Also, the elections are the first test of the popularity of President Mohamed Ould Sheikh al-Qaswani, who came to power in 2019 and parties say he is preparing to run for president next year to secure a second presidential mandate. Support him on that.

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