Today, Mauritanian voters will head to the polls to elect 146 members to the National Assembly with five-year terms. These
Today, Mauritanian voters will head to the polls to elect 146 members to the National Assembly with five-year terms.
These elections are the first to take place since a controversial 2017 referendum abolished the Senate, creating a unicameral legislature. Opposition parties decried the move as a thinly veiled attempt to consolidate President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s power, while widespread protests were met with a military crackdown.
President Aziz came to power in a 2008 coup and has claimed to be transitioning Mauritania to democracy. Ironically, however, Mr Aziz deposed the nation’s first democratically-elected president and he maintains power with a grip on the state media and arrests of opposition leaders.
Most major opposition parties have boycotted elections throughout President Aziz’s tenure, but today’s elections include candidates from all of Mauritania’s parties. The presence of a full opposition creates good optics for President Aziz’s Union for the Republic party, but given the president’s political past, a completely fair electoral process is unlikely. Thus, expect the Union for the Republic to maintain its majority. If the opposition fins foul play and rejects the result, nationwide protests similar to those surrounding the 2017 referendum will likely ensue.
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