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Campaigning Begins in Mauritania for Constitutional Referendum

Official campaigning has begun for Mauritania's constitutional referendum that would create presidential term limits.

The referendum, scheduled for June 25, would limit presidents to two terms of five years each. Mauritania's constitution currently allows leaders to serve indefinitely.

Mauritania's state press agency said the government will allow political parties to campaign on state radio and television. Campaigning is set to last two weeks and will end two days before the vote.

The referendum will be the first in a series of elections the president (Ely Ould Mohammed Vall) has called to bring democratic rule to the west African nation.

Municipal elections later this year and legislative elections in January 2007 will lead up to presidential elections in March.

President Vall's military council assumed power in 2005 after a bloodless coup ousted the former military leader (Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya) who had ruled the desert country for 20 years. When he took office, Colonel Vall promised to hold national elections within two years.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.