Mauritanians Abroad Say Authorities Rigged Diaspora Voter List

Some Diaspora Mauritanians are claiming that their names were deliberately left out of the final voter registration list for this Saturday’s presidential election. 

Saturday’s election will pit former leader of the current military junta Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz against nine opposition candidates.  

Mohamed Sidatt, former vice president of the Mauritanian community in the United States and opposition spokesman said the Mauritanian government deliberately left out the names of those believed to be opposition supporters.

“As you know, there were two major registrations. The first one, the agenda was led by Abde Aziz unilaterally to organize elections on the sixth of June. And in that time all people who were favoring Abdel Aziz already registered. Meanwhile negotiations were going on Senegal, and at the end of the negotiations they decided to organize the elections on the 18,” he said.

Sidatt said it was clear to the Mauritanian authorities that Diaspora voters registering after June 6 were not in favor of former junta leader Abdel Aziz.

As a result, he said out of the estimated 700 people who registered at the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington after June 6, only 400 names appeared on the final list.

Sidatt said his name was removed from the list because he has been an outspoken opponent of the August 6, 2008 coup that ousted President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdalahi.

“I did and I have a valid Mauritanian passport, but my name did not appear on the final list. And I know it’s because I was an active voice against the military coup. That’s the only reason,” he said.

Sidatt said the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington could not explain why his and other names were left out of the final voter list.

“Actually I was called by the charge d’affairs at the embassy here, and during that night, we were all working together on the computer to finish this process and make sure that all had been sent in a very correct form to the Mauritanian Interior Ministry. And then today I called him in person about this issue and he was basically unable to have an answer,” Sidatt said.

VOA contacted the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington about the allegations and was told by Charge d’Affairs Mohamed el Moctar Alaoui that the government had no comment.  He also advised against calling his number again.

“That’s one more proof that they are trying in a direct way to use different means to basically go ahead with their massive fraud,” Sidatt said.

He said he has contacted the U.S. State Department about the missing alleged missing Diaspora voter names.

“We are trying very hard before the start of the election to attract the attention of the international community about this issue,” he said.

For the first time in Mauritanian election, a former slave by the name of Messaoud Ould Boulkheir is believed to be one of the leading contenders.

Sidatt described Boulkheir as the voice of ordinary Mauritanians.

“He is aligned with Ahmed Ould Daddah, the main opposition leader, and he has most of the slaves in the Sahara Desert and everyone are supportive of him. He is our voice at the moment,” Sidatt said.

He said Mauritanian authorities might be using the Diaspora to rig the elections because locally they cannot because of the presence of international observers. 

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