Ex-junta chief ‘ahead’ in Mauritania poll: commission

Mauritania’s coup leader Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz took a commanding lead in the presidential election winning 52.2 percent of votes with more than half the ballots counted, the electoral commission said on Sunday.

According to the partial results released with 61.17 percent of ballots counted, the nearest challenger was parliamentary speaker Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, the anti-coup front candidate, with 16.63 percent of votes.

In third place was the head of the main opposition party, Ahmed Ould Daddah, with 13.89 percent of votes.

Out of a field of nine candidates for president, the moderate Islamist Jemil Ould Mansour has garnered 4.66 percent of the vote and the former junta chief in 2005-2007, colonel Elu Ould Mohamed Vall, 3.78 percent.

The electoral commission said voter turnout was at 61 percent.

If the tendency is confirmed, the leader of last August’s coup, who ceded control as head of the junta in April and resigned from the army to contest Saturday’s election, will be elected in the first round without the need for a run-off.

Supporters of Ould Abdel Aziz celebrated the expected victory of their candidate on the streets of the capital on Saturday night.

However, the four main opposition candidates Sunday denounced the poll as a charade as early results came in.

“The results which are starting to come out show that it is an electoral charade which is trying to legitimise the coup,” Ould Boulkheir told a press conference.

Saturday’s elections are intended to restore constitutional democracy to this arid, but potentially oil-rich country in northwest Africa.

Some 1.2 million of the nation’s three million people were eligible to vote in the polls which were monitored by international observers from the African Union, the Arab League and the association of Francophone countries.



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