Mauritanians are reportedly reacting with cautious optimism
after the national assembly approved plans yesterday to hold a free and
fair presidential election within 12-14 months. But some political observers
are skeptical the plan would potentially prevent the military ruler who staged
last month's coup from standing. General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz who seized
power last month and ousted the country's first democratically elected
president previously promised not to participate in the election. But his
refusal to rule himself and fellow members of the military junta out of the
elections has alienated some opposition parties who had initially supported the
the restrictions on members of the military junta would only apply to those
serving when they registered for elections, clearing the way for Abdel Aziz to
quit the army and stand. Kabiru Mato is a political science professor at the
University of Abuja. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Kaduna State in
Nigeria that the legitimacy of the national assembly is doubtful.
"First if all, I really
don't know the efficacy of the national assembly existing under a military
rule. It appears that it is a situation that is rather unfortunate; it is a
situation that one would comfortably say is apparently defying the normal
political or democratic convention as we know it," Mato said
He said although the credibility
if the national assembly is doubtful, Mauritanians could welcome its move for
setting the parameters for an election date.
"For the assembly to come up
and bring up a resolution that there should be an election as soon as possible
I think it is a welcome development, which perhaps the people of Mauritania
should rally round and try to cash in with the possibilities of having perhaps
another round of election that would see Mauritania join the league of other
African countries that are having democratic systems of government. But the
confusing aspect of it is that I really would find it difficult to really
comprehend the legitimacy of perhaps a parliament subsisting under a military
dictatorship," he noted.
Mato said it is hard to
believe the leader of the military junta would live up to his promises not to
participate in a democratic presidential election.
"It has always been the
strategy of military leaders in Africa. They first color they paint, as you
now, is that we will try to organize free fair and credible elections of which
we are not going to participate. But they will create a scenario whereby the
very gullible political class within the society will apparently be fronting
for them and creating a very complicated scenario. That has happened in Nigeria
and that has happened in so many Africa countries where some hired or rented
crowd will be created to make it look as if it is the desire of the citizens
that such military men should remove their uniforms and contest elections,"
Mato pointed out.
both the United States and the European Union, who are key donors and business
partners of Mauritania, have repeatedly demanded President Abdallahi's release
and restoration to power.
Mato however said the
military junta would pay little heed to the demand by both the United States
and European Union.
"That's not possible because
it is only possible if that political statement is matched by certain basic
physical threats. If the military junta does not see the possibility of perhaps
being forced out of power, and perhaps by African Union or any other stronger
force within the western or Central or West African sub-region it would be
difficult for the military government to just cave in as a result of that
threat by the European Union and by the Americans," Mato said.
He said the African Union
and the international community could pile pressure on the military junta to
allow the ousted president to stand for re-election.
"The only thing now is, I
think, what the political class in Mauritania and what the African Union and
the world at large should try to do is to ensure that perhaps the ousted
president is not really denied the possibilities of having another ballot or
going on another ballot," he said.