Government candidate Mohamed Ould Ghazouani wins
51.9 percent with nearly all votes counted, provisional results show.
Mauritania’s government has declared victory in the
country’s competitive presidential election but opposition candidates said they
could contest the result.
With counting completed in nearly all polling stations on
Sunday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said the ruling
party’s Mohamed Ould Ghazouani won 51.9 percent of the vote.
“Congratulations to president-elect Mohamed Ould
Ghazouani for the trust the people have shown him. We wish him all success in
his work,” Communications Minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham said in a
Ghazouani had already declared himself the winner in the early hours of
Sunday in the presence of current President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, his
supporters and journalists.
The election was the first in Mauritania’s coup-strewn history to choose a
successor to a democratically elected president.
Ghazouani’s nearest rival, Mohamed Ould Boubacar won 18.67 percent, while
Biram Dah Abeid followed in third place with 16.4 percent. None of the three
remaining candidates has more than 10 percent.
At a news conference, opposition candidates said they would contest the
results if the ruling party won outright.
“This seems like a coup d’etat,” said Abeid, representing himself
and the other opposition leaders. “We are united and will lead the
contestation [of the results].”
Hitting out at Ghazouani’s claim of victory “while the vote count is
still going on”, he said the ruling party candidate’s announcement
“constitutes a falsehood”.
Some 1.5 million people were eligible to vote on Saturday in the vast
predominantly Muslim Mauritania, a country of fewer than five million
people comprising a large chunk of the western Sahara Desert.
Turnout was 62.68 percent, CENI said.
In a statement, CENI said it would continue compiling the results from
across the West African country before handing them over to the Constitutional
In the meantime, it said it “advises the candidates to show prudence
and restraint,” and hoped the calm climate seen during the campaign and on
voting day would prevail.
Ghazouani has campaigned on continuing economic and security progress made
under the outgoing president, who took the helm in a 2008 coup. Abdel Aziz won
elections a year later and was again elected in 2014 in polls boycotted by the
The 62-year-old president surprised many of his compatriots and
international observers by stepping aside after serving the maximum two
five-year elected terms.
His decision bucked a trend, including in Rwanda and Congo Republic, in
which African leaders have changed or abolished term limits to cling to