• November 19, 2006
  • 3 minutes read

Mauritanians Vote for Parliament, Municipal Councils

Mauritanians Vote for Parliament, Municipal Councils

Parliamentary and municipal election kick started on Sunday November 19,2006, as more than 30 parties are contesting to elect 95 candidates for parliament membership as well as 216 municipal councils. It is the first elections since the military junta seized power after a coup which overthrew former President Maaoya Sid’Ahmed Ould Taya, in August 2005.

The election comes amid such a heated competition that it is difficult to predict the winners before the result is declared from official quarters. About 1.70000 eligible voters will cast their votes in this election, where candidates from 1222 slates, including 889 slates for the political parties, will be chosen for membership in 216 municipal councils. As regards the Parliament, 95 candidates will be chosen from among 411 slates including political parties and their alliances, as well as 122 independent ones.

Commander of the military junta, Colonel Ali Ould Mohammed, vowed that the junta will not back any party or figures in this election, nor will he stand for the Presidential election. However, political parties accuse the military junta of behind- the- scene attempts to form a junta backed- party from among tribal and political figures, warning that this step secures the junta’s widespread monopoly of power after the election.

To ensure the fairness and integrity of the election, over 500 European, Arab and African missions are due to monitor the balloting process and eventually brief their governments on the findings they come up with from the election. Foremost among these missions will be ones affiliated to the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the World Francophone Organization, the UN and the US, in addition to another 300 figures from Mauritania who were mandated to monitor the election by the National Election Monitoring Agency, an independent body formed by the civil society organizations in Mauritania.

Issues of corruption and political reform, normalization with Israel, relations with Europe and the US are highlighted in the platform of the Islamic movement, with the moderate, reformist trend in Mauritania vowing to press for severing relations with Israel once the movement has had a strong presence in the Parliament. The moderate reformist trend has fielded candidates as independents, with 64 slates in 216 municipal councils and 30 candidates for Parliament. As the Mauritanian law bans forming religion- oriented parties, citing the notion" Religion is for all", the Moderate Reformist Trend opted to field its candidates on the slate of the Socialist Democratic Unionist Party with national Ba’athism inclinations, but without changing its own reform program.

In an exclusive statement to Ikhwanweb, Head of the Moderate Reformist Trend Mohammed, Gameel Bin Mansour (Muslim Brotherhood) said that the trend hopes to see fair and free election which reflects the Mauritanian people’s genuine will for reform and change. Bin Mansour added that the trend participates in the election for the first time; "we hope to be the black horse", he said, citing the trend’s strong presence with the Mauritanian public. He also pointed out that the trend has an overall vision for reform; "We have presented our reform program to the masses in Mauritania and we are confident to win the public’s trust in this election", he said.