Presidential Campaigning Ends in Mauritania

Presidential campaigning in Mauritania ends Thursday.  Saturday's vote is meant to restore constitutional order following a military coup that ousted the nation's first freely-elected leader.

Supporters of opposition leader Ahmed Ould Dadah cheered their candidate at a rally in the southern city of Rosso.  He is from this farming community along the border with Senegal and is expected to do well here.

Dadah finished second in the 2007 election, behind Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who was toppled in a military coup 11 months ago.  Soldiers eventually yielded power to a transitional government that is organizing Saturday's vote.

Dadah tells his supporters they have a choice between the cycle of coup d'etat - transitional government - coup d'etat-transitional government, or a real democracy where the decision is made by people in the polling stations.  Make your choice, he tells them, it is up to you to choose.

Dadah's party holds the most seats in parliament.  He says he was quiet after, what he claims was, the electoral fraud that denied him power in 1991 and 2007 because he did not fear for the future of the country.  But this time he says he is not prepared to be silent if the election is stolen, and, he tells his supporters, neither should they.

Sixteen kilometers up the road, supporters of former military leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz say the retired general is the right man to lead Mauritania because he is determined to fight corrupt politicians.

Corruption is one of the reasons Aziz gave for leading the coup against the Abdallahi government last August.  He ignored African Union demands to restore civilian authority because he said that would not be in Mauritania's best interest.  Instead, he changed the constitution to allow retired officers to run for political office before resigning his commission to contest this vote.

Aziz says the real people of the agricultural region around Rosso support him because they know he is committed to helping the poor.  He says his civilian opponents in this election are all criminals, and after he beats them he is going to jail them.  To the cheers of his supporters, he vows to build more prisons to hold the country's political elite.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of Saturday's vote, there will be a second round of balloting August 1st.  Of the seven other candidates in this race, most political observers say the main challenger to Dadah and Aziz making it through to the second round is opposition legislator Massoud Ould Belkhare.

He is the descendent of freed slaves in a country where black Mauritanians in the south have generally had little political power.

Belkhare says this is a vote about defeating those who take power through military force.  It is part of the continuing fight between democracy and dictatorship, and he says Mauritanians want to see the triumph of democracy.

Belkhare and Dadah have both vowed publicly to support the other if the vote comes down to one of them in a second-round run-off against Aziz August 1 

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs