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Mauritanians Vote in Landmark Second Round Legislative Elections

Second round legislative elections are under way in Mauritania. The vote is seen as a key step in the country's return to civilian rule. Observers say the entire process has been fair and transparent. Jordan Davis files this VOA report from our regional bureau in Dakar.

Second round races were mostly concentrated in rural areas of Mauritania for about half of the country's 95 parliamentary seats. The rest of the seats were decided in first round elections two weeks ago.

European Union observers say voting on Sunday proceeded without significant problems.

Independent Journalist Racine Sy says a significant number of women are expected to join the country's parliament because of a quota system.

"The women have a quota of 20 percent," said Sy. "But they have gone more than that 20 percent, because they got nine places in the first round, and there is the possibility of them getting more places in the second round."

The elections were organized by the ruling military junta that overthrew former Mauritanian President Maaouiya Ould Taya over a year ago. The current rulers said they would not run for office.

In the first round of elections two weeks ago, the coalition opposed to the former Taya regime grabbed a majority of the 46 seats that were decided.

Turnout then topped 70 percent.

Mauritanians will vote in Senate races in January. New presidential elections are scheduled for March.