Ruling party retains lead in legislative and municipal elections

Mauritania‘s ruling party has taken the lead in legislative, regional and local elections held earlier this month, the electoral commission said Sunday.

“The Union for the Republic is the leading political party according to provisional results” of the first round September 1 vote, commission spokesman Mustafa Sidel Moktar told AFP news agency.

The party has so far won 67 of the 157 national assembly seats, compared to 14 for the second place Islamist party Tewassoul, as well as four of the 13 regional councils and 108 of 219 municipalities, he said.

Turnout was 73.4 percent, Mohamed Vall Ould Bella of the Independent National Electoral Commission said on Saturday.

A second round vote will be held on September 15 to decide 22 national assembly seats, nine regional councils, and 115 municipalities in the vast and arid West African state with a registered electorate of some 1.4 million.

Another term?

The vote is the last test for President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s record before next year’s presidential election.

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The opposition boycotted the last polls in 2013, but a record 98 parties are taking part this time, with close to 5,000 people running for the National Assembly alone.

Aziz, 61, who came to power in a coup in 2008, won elections in 2009 and again in 2014 for a second five-year term.

He has been frequently accused by opposition figures and NGOs of rights abuses.

Though Aziz said he will not seek a third mandate, which would be against the constitution, statements by ministers and supporters have led some to suggest he might.

Mauritania last year voted on a controversial constitutional reform initiated by the president that seeks to abolish the Senate and alter the country’s flag, among other changes.

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