Mauritania: election violence days before polls

mauritania-election-violenceViolence broke out between protesters against the upcoming parliamentary and local elections and the police in the capital city leaving many injured as tensions continue to rise. The protesters were chanting anti-election slogans and calling for the boycott of the elections by the 3,4million registered voters. The elections were to be held in October but later postponed to November after the opposition parties threatened to boycott it.
The protesters were at the office of the election commission when the police tried to disperse them. They claim that the electoral process is not transparent. The elections are scheduled for November 23rd and the buildup to the event has heavily been criticized by the opposition. 10 of the 11 opposition parties forming the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) have decided to boycott the elections.
However, 1500 registered candidates have been campaigning since November 7th. Only 147 parliamentarians and 218 local councils will be elected.
According to spokesman Idoumou Ould Mohamed Lemine of the COD, organizers of the protest, “the police violently attacked the demonstrators despite the peaceful nature of their movement, using tear gas and batons”. COD terms the elections as an “electoral masquerade” after talks between them and government stalled in October. He scolded the police for their violence which he said is “contrary to democracy and the free expression that the government prides itself on”.
The African union will be sending a team to observe the elections. It will be headed by Algeria’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia.
Mauritania, a mainly Muslim republic and a former French colony, is seen by Western leaders as strategically important in the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked groups within its own borders, in neighboring Mali and across Africa’s Sahel region.

About Geraldine Boechat 1599 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia