African business, politics and lifestyle
An easy win in Mauritania?
Last year Mauritania’s first democratically elected president, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, was ousted in a coup led by General Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Next week, the country goes to the polls to elect a president but opposition parties say the elections won’t be fair and are asking people to stay away.
Though a few opposition candidates are still in the race, analysts say there is no real threat to Abdel Aziz and expect him and his Union for the Republic party to win. Meanwhile the opposition coalition holds regular protests.
“Mauritania does not belong to anyone. What we are looking for is democracy, and the person who killed democracy is Ould Abdel Aziz,” said opposition leader Massaoud Boukheir at a rally against the ruling junta.
“I am protesting for my rights and my responsibilities. Enough time has gone by for us to have achieved democracy by now,” Souleymane Camara, a protester who attended the rally, told Reuters Africa Journal.
Others say they will not vote, while Abdel Aziz also has his supporters.
University student N’Dongo Ousmane Oumar is backing the president.
“I will vote for Abdel Aziz, General Aziz, for many reasons, as he accepts that there was a lot of injustice in this country because he realized that people were indifferent,” he said.
“The second point being that he came to visit us at the university and he increased our financial assistance and I think he will change a lot of things.”
In an attempt to mediate, Libyan president and the head of the African Union Muammar Gaddafi visited Mauritania in March, and after several meetings with both sides he declared: “The elections must go on. Nobody should try and stop them. Mauritanians are happy.”
This resulted in the opposition walking out in protest.
Because of its military government, Mauritania is under sanctions from the African Union and the European Union has suspended aid.
The general can nevertheless expect an easy win, but it will be harder for his country to find a quick route back to international favour.