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Voting Underway in Mauritania

Voting is underway to choose a new president in Mauritania. The election is meant to restore constitutional order following last year's coup.

Electoral officials read out voter identity cards so observers for presidential candidates can check the names against the electoral roll at this polling station in the Tevrak Zeina neighborhood of the capital.

Nine candidates are running to return Mauritania to constitutional rule after a coup eleven months ago toppled the nation's first freely-elected leader.

Yacoub Ould Abdallahi says he is voting to choose a president who will represent a clear break with the period of coups d'etat.

Opposition candidate Ahmed Ould Daddah has run a campaign asking voters if they want to be finished with coups d'etat. The former central bank Governor says Mauritanians can end the cycle of coups and transitional governments in favor of a real democracy where decisions are made by voters not soldiers.

General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz led last August's coup and changed the constitution to allow military reservists to run for office before stepping down to join the reservists and run for president.

Kumba Bah is supporting Aziz because she says he is making the changes that Mauritanians want. That is why she says this election is different from the others.

Aziz has run a populist campaign as the so-called "Candidate of the Poor" while promising to jail his political opponents because he says they are corrupt.

If no one wins more than 50 percent of ballots, the top two vote getters will face-off in a second round August 1. Dadah and National Assembly President Messaoud Ould Boulkheir have both vowed publicly to support the other in a potential runoff against Aziz.

Ballot counting begins immediately after polls close. Provisional results are expected Sunday.