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Mauritanians Vote Despite Boycotts

  • VOA News

Mauritania has held its first general elections since a military coup five years ago, but most opposition parties staged a boycott.

About 1,500 candidates from 74 parties competed for 147 seats in parliament and the leadership of 218 local councils.

The ruling Union for the Republic, headed by Mauritania's leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, is expected to retain power.

A once-outlawed Islamist party, Tewassoul, participated in the Saturday vote and is expected to enter parliament for the first time.

The party, which calls for implementation of Islamic law, was banned until 2007.

Most other opposition parties boycotted the poll, calling it a masquerade.

About one third of Mauritania's 3.4 million people were eligible to vote.

A second round of voting where needed is set for December 7.

Abdel Aziz was elected president a year after seizing power in 2008, but Mauritania's main opposition coalition has not accepted the 2009 election result.