Mauritania awaited the results of its presidential election on Sunday with incumbent Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz expected to win handily after his main rivals boycotted a process they regard as a sham. The former general, who seized power in the north-west African nation in 2008 coup, campaigned strongly on his success in fighting armed groups linked to Al Qaeda at home and in neighbouring Sahel nations. Men and women voted separately on Saturday, in accordance with the country’s Islamic law, emerging from voting booths to stain their fingers with ink to show they had voted.
One 70-year-old voter who gave his name only as Brahim said the country, wracked by jihadist violence up until 2010, “had found peace”. “That’s important and I want it to continue because peace is irreplaceable.”
Kidnappings and attacks by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were frequent when Mr Abdel Aziz came to power, but he boasts that he has turned his nation into a regional haven of peace thanks to his reorganisation of the military and security forces.
“The first point where Abdel Aziz’s success is undeniable is indeed that of security and stability in the country, driving away the spectre of the terrorist threat,” said Mohamed Fall Ould Oumeire, managing editor of the daily La Tribune.