News / Africa

Mauritania to Vote for Next President

People attend a campaign rally for presidential candidate Boydiel Ould Houmeid in Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 18, 2014.
People attend a campaign rally for presidential candidate Boydiel Ould Houmeid in Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 18, 2014.
Jennifer Lazuta
— Voters in Mauritania head to the polls Saturday to vote in presidential elections, widely expected to return President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to office. But the opposition remains hopeful.
 
Mauritanians have a choice of five presidential candidates, including incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
 
His two main challengers are a prominent anti-slavery activist and the country's second-ever female presidential candidate, both running as independents.
 
Boydiel Ould Houmied, a member of a loyalist-backed party of former president Maawiya Ould Taya, and Ibrahim Moctar Sarr, a Black African who won five percent of the vote in the 2009 election, are also contenders.
 
The country's leading opposition coalition is boycotting the poll, claiming a lack of transparency and vote-rigging.
 
Aziz, a former army general who took power during a 2008 military coup, was officially elected in 2009. He is running on the platform that Mauritania is a better place today than it was before he took office.
 
He said the country was more safe today than five years ago, there were no more terrorist cells and there are no political prisoners, "so this means that we have democracy."
 
Aziz is considered by many Western countries to be a key ally in the fight against al-Qaida-linked terrorists in the region. He has also claimed responsibility for the country's recent economic growth.
 
But one of Aziz's top rivals, Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, said that it is time for a change, particularly when it comes to addressing Mauritania's ongoing problem of modern-day slavery. As a self-proscribed "defender of human rights," Abeid has promised to protect and promote the poor and the marginalized.
 
He said the election was a battle between two ideologies:  between that of human rights, equality and freedom, and that of the real Islam. 

"We are fighting against those ideologies that have bullied people into a lifestyle of slavery and against those who make a fortune on human exploitation," he said
 
Mauritania has repeatedly tried to abolish slavery, most recently banning it in 2007. However, as many as 600,000 people, mostly of Black African descent, are still estimated to be enslaved by the lighter skinned Arab Moors.  
 
The sole female candidate, Lalla Maryem Mint Moulaye Idriss, is promising to make women and children a priority while improving the country's agriculture and fishing sectors.  She has become a favorite with many female voters.
 
Aissatou Salam, a resident of Nouakchott, says she believes Mauritania could use a female leader. She says women represent 52 percent of the population and it is time for them to take power.
 
Some voters, such as Ahmed Beik Ould Maouloud, said they were only interested in positive change and wanted the winning candidate to take note.
 
He said, "we expect to be able to find jobs and see a big improvement in our economy."
 
If no one candidate wins 50 percent of the vote on Saturday, runoff elections are scheduled to take place on July 5.

(Mohamed Beddy Horma contributed to this report from Nouakchott.)

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid