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Mauritania President Wins Re-Election - 2003-11-08

President Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya has won Mauritania's presidential election and secured another six years in office.

Interior Minister Kaaba Ould Elewa confirmed that Mr. Ould Taya has secured 66.69 perecent of the vote, making him the outright winner of Mauritania's presidential election.

Mr. Ould Taya has been in power since 1984. His electroral victory has secured him another six years in office only months before goernment coffers are set to swell with newly found oil-revenue.

But the controversy surrounding the ballot is not yet over. The whereabouts of the leading opposition candidate, Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidallah, who came in second with 18.73 percent of the vote, is unknown.

Even at the campaign headquarters, Mr. Ould Haidallah's location is unknown, with party faithfuls unsure whether their leader has been arrested, abducted or has gone into hiding.

Mr. Ould Haidallah was arrested days before the election amidst charges of plotting to stage a coup d'etat. He was released in a matter of hours so that the poll could go ahead, but that release was conditional meaning that Mr. Haidallah could be rearrested at any time.

Mr. Ahmed Ould Daddah, who came in third with 6.89 percent of the vote said that the elections had not been conducted freely or fairly, and he refected the results of the poll.

Mr. Ould Daddah said that both he and Mr. Ould Haidallah rejected the poll results, as they were ridiculous, bore no relation to reality and were simply a manipulation of the truth by the government.

Mr. Ould Daddah stated that although he rejected the result, he was a democrat and would not respond with violence.

Mauritania is a vast desert state in the western Sahara. The population of less than three million people is deeply divided both economically and culturally.