Mauritanian opposition parties to boycott legislative election


Mauritania’s main opposition parties announced a boycott of November’s legislative election on Friday after talks with the government over preparations for the vote collapsed without agreement.

The Coordination of the Democratic Opposition (COD) said after three days of talks with the government that 10 of its 11 member parties had decided to boycott the vote.

The talks were the first between the two sides in over four years. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 coup in the Islamic republic, which straddles black and Arab Africa on the continent’s west coast.
“Ten political parties have decided to boycott except the Islamist Tewassoul party which will participate in the election,” the statement said.

Mauritania, a country of 3.2 million people, has emerged as an ally of the West in the fight against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

It has iron ore, copper and gold reserves as well as a budding offshore oil and gas sector.

The government has scheduled the municipal and legislative elections for November 23. The opposition demands the polls be postponed until April to allow time to prepare a voter census and electoral roster, and wants guarantees of the independence of the electoral commission.

The last legislative election was held in 2006. A vote was due in 2011 but has been repeatedly delayed due to disagreements between the opposition and the government over its preparation.

Mauritania’s communication minister said late on Thursday there was a possibility for talks with the opposition to resume.