Campaigning starts as Mauritania readies for elections next month

Friday 17th August, 2018

Accra, August 17, (DPA/GNA) - Political parties in Mauritania started their official campaigns Friday for legislative, regional, and municipal elections set for next month.

Independents are not allowed to run in the elections, which are being contested by the ruling Union for the Republic party and the National Forum for Democracy and Unity, a coalition of 11 opposition parties that boycotted the 2013 vote.

Contenders in the elections, which will be on September 1, can campaign until August 30.

The polls will be the first time regional councils are elected in the north-west African country.

They replace the upper house of parliament, the Senate, which was abolished in a contested referendum last year, and boycotted by a major opposition alliance.

The forthcoming polls are seen as a window into how next year's presidential election will unfold.

Should pro-government parties win a clear majority in the 157-seat parliament, they could change the constitution, which bars incumbent President Mohammed Ouled Abdel Aziz from running for a third term.

The president, who was elected to a second five-year term in 2014, on Friday called on Mauritanians to vote for the ruling Union for the Republic party.

He has not confirmed yet if he will seek a third term.

"This will guarantee the continuity of development and fulfilment of more achievements in the country," he said in the capital, Nouakchott.

Nearly 1.5 million Mauritanians are eligible to vote on September 1, according to official figures.