Uncertainty Over Abdel Aziz’s Future Is Fueling Election Tensions in Mauritania

Uncertainty Over Abdel Aziz’s Future Is Fueling Election Tensions in Mauritania
Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, welcomes his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at Nouakchott airport, Mauritania, July 2, 2018 (AP photo by Ludovic Marin).

Last Friday, the day before voters in Mauritania went to the polls for parliamentary, regional and local elections, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he would be “closely following developments” in the West African country. In particular, he called on “all parties” to “allow for the participation of all interested stakeholders.”

By that point, however, this wish was already out of reach. That’s because in early August, Biram Dah Abeid, a prominent opposition politician, was arrested at his home by police officers who reportedly said they were executing “an order that came from above.” Abeid remains behind bars, meaning he was unable to actively participate in his bid for a parliamentary seat.

The case against Abeid concerns a complaint filed by a journalist who says Abeid threatened him. But Tona K.E. Thiam, a senior adviser to Abeid, says there’s no question in his mind that the case is politically motivated. Indeed, Abeid’s political activities have resulted in his incarceration several times in the past. A celebrated anti-slavery campaigner, he has received awards from the State Department, the United Nations and many independent organizations, drawing attention to a persistent societal scourge that Mauritanian officials are loath to acknowledge.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.