Mauritania holds nationwide elections next month overshadowed by a boycott of the entire “democratic” opposition — apart from an Islamist party calling its participation a struggle against “dictatorship”. The mainly-Muslim republic, a former French colony on the west coast of the Sahara desert, is seen by Western leaders as strategically important in the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked groups within its own borders, in neighbouring Mali and across Africa’s Sahel region. Around a third of its 3.4 million predominantly Arab-Berber and black African people are eligible to vote in the first parliamentary and local polls since 2006, five years after the coup of junta chief Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who was eventually elected in widely-contested polls. At the close of election lists on Friday, around 1,100 candidates were registered to vie for the leadership of 218 local councils dotted across the shifting sands of the vast nation and only 440 for 146 seats up for grabs in parliament.
The ruling Union for the Republic is the only party fielding candidates in every constituency, while the next highest representation will be from Islamist group Tewassoul, and then the People’s Progressive Alliance of parliament leader Messaoud Ould Boulkheir.
Tewassoul is the only member of the 11-party Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) coalition, referred to as the “democratic” opposition, contesting the polls, describing its participation as a form of struggle against the “dictatorship” of Abdel Aziz.
The rest of the coalition said it would “boycott this electoral masquerade” after talks on how the vote should be run broke down in early October and it dismissed as insufficient a two-week postponement offered by the government.
Full Article: .:Middle East Online:::..