Mauritania’s Historic Election Entrenches a Ruling Clique in Power for Decades

Former Defense Minister and ruling party presidential candidate Mohamed Ould Ghazouani casts his ballot in Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 22, 2019 (AP photo by Elhady Ould Mohamedou).
Former Defense Minister and ruling party presidential candidate Mohamed Ould Ghazouani casts his ballot in Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 22, 2019 (AP photo by Elhady Ould Mohamedou).
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It may be the first peaceful transfer of power between elected heads of state since Mauritania won its independence from France in 1960, but the victory by Mohamed Ould Ghazouani in presidential elections on June 22 really represents the latest phase of control by a ruling clique of military officers and businessmen whose influence reaches back to the 1980s. With 52 percent of the vote, Ould Ghazouani—a former defense minister and the handpicked successor of outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz—forestalled a second round, though the opposition claims the results were marred by fraud and is trying to challenge them. […]

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