Magharebia (Washington DC)

Mauritania Ruling Party Stays On Top

Nouakchott — Mauritania's electoral commission (CENI) on Tuesday (December 3rd) announced the results from the first round of the legislative and local elections.

The ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) and its allied parties won a large majority in the 147-seat parliament, according to results from 121 positions won in the first round, AFP reported. The UPR won 56 seats, while another 34 seats were shared between 14 small parties aligned to the ruling party.

Islamist party Tawassoul took home 12 seats in the November 23rd vote. Three other opposition parties won the remaining seats.

The news came amid a ballot boycott by the Co-ordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) and fraud allegations among the participants. Disturbances occurred also in some constituencies. The situation made political participants sceptical about the efficiency of CENI, with some accusing the electoral body of failing to do its part to the fullest.

The commission reported the participation of 800,000 voters out of more than a million and a half registered constituencies.

CENI postponed the second round of voting until December 21st. Mohameden Ould Sidi, director of operations at the commission, cited the need to provide an opportunity for appeals.

The future political map will be different due to the absence of the COD, which boycotted the elections for lack of fairness and the refusal of the current government to heed its demands, according to Babana Ould Gawad, the spokesman for the opposition party Union of forces of Progress (UFP).

He also said that any result emerging from the current elections would be discredited by opposition parties.

Political analyst Bashir Ould Mohamed Hafiz observed, "The quality of the current election is the remarkable presence of women in the next parliament. Thirty-one secured their win so far and one more is expected to join in the event of her win in the runoff of the second round. This means that the presence of women in the next parliament will represent 21 per cent of the total members of the parliamentary line up."

In the opinion of journalist Mohamed Naji, the concerns of the ruling party were focused more on the Islamist Tawassoul.

Naji said that the reason for this concern was the ideological theorising of the Islamist movement over the past two years to advocate a popular uprising against the ruling regime, or as termed by pro-government observers, an attempt to reproduce the Arab Spring and bring Islamists to power.

On the Mauritanian street, residents were split on the efficacy of the vote.

"Elections in Mauritania are for opportunists only," commented Salek Ould Ibrahim, a trader. "Once they secure a seat in Parliament, they fail to meet their obligations to the voters. Therefore I do not see the need to vote for anyone."

Illin Ould Islamou, an electrician, said, "I cannot imagine a fair election where opposition parties do not participate. No matter the outcome, this will exacerbate the existing problem, because how can you have a parliament without an opposition?"

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