Mauritanian ruling party boosts majority, ekes out municipal vote

AFP , Sunday 16 Sep 2018

Mauritania's ruling Union for the Republic party scored a meagre victory in municipal elections in the capital Nouakchott while sweeping legislative polls, according to official results announced Sunday.

The party of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz won an additional 22 seats in Saturday's runoff vote, bringing its majority to 89 in the 157-seat parliament.

Another four seats representing overseas constituents remain to be filled through a vote by MPs.

The UPR fared worse in municipal elections. In Nouakchott, the party clinched the regional council with barely one percentage point more than the radical opposition Islamist Tewassoul coalition, said electoral commission (CENI) spokesman Moustapha Sidel Moctar.

It won six of Nouakchott's nine districts, some by just dozens of votes. It was still an improvement on 2013, when the UPR won five districts.

Mauritania, a former French colony, is a frontline country in the fight against Islamist extremists.

Aziz, 61, came to power in a coup in 2008. He won elections in 2009 and again in 2014 for a second five-year term.

He has been frequently accused by opposition figures and NGOs of rights abuses, and though he says he will not seek a third mandate -- which would be against the constitution -- statements by ministers and supporters have led some to suggest he might.

The other three went to the radical opposition including two to the Tewassoul party, which won 14 seats in parliament.

CENI revised upwards its turning estimate from around 40 percent to nearly 64 percent.

It said full results could be expected early in the week.

The president, who voted in Nouakchott, hailed the results of the first round, saying Saturday: "Mauritanians have voted for stability, development and progress".

They had "rejected religious extremists and racists who have destroyed the country and tarnished the image of Islam around the world," he said.

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