Mauritania re-elects President Ghazouani for a second term

Ghazouani secured 56.12 percent of the vote, well ahead of his rival Biram Dah Abeid, says the electoral commission.

President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani speaks to reporters after casting his vote at a polling station in Nouakchott, Mauritania [File: Michele Cattani/AFP]

Incumbent Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani has won Mauritania’s presidential election, securing a second term, according to the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Ghazouani, 67, won 56.12 percent of the votes in the first round of the presidential poll, well ahead of his main rival, anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, who won 22.10 percent, CENI said on Monday.

Ghazouani’s other main rival, Hamadi Ould Sid’ El Moctar, who heads the Tewassoul party, came third with 12.78 percent, according to CENI.

Saturday’s presidential election had an overall turnout of 55.39 percent, lower than in 2019.

But opponent Abeid said he would not recognise the results of CENI, which he accused of being manipulated by the government.

Some of Abeid’s supporters demonstrated in the capital Nouakchott late on Sunday, burning tyres and disrupting traffic.

“We did everything we could to prepare the conditions for a good election and we were relatively successful. I congratulate everyone,” CENI chief Dah Ould Abdel Jelil told journalists.

The election victory gives former army chief Ghazouani, 67, a second term as head of the vast desert country, seen as relatively stable in Africa’s volatile Sahel region and set to become a gas producer.

He has presided over a period of relative stability since 2019, as Sahel neighbours, including Mali, struggle with violence with the rise of armed groups that have led to military coups.

Mauritania has not recorded an attack on its soil in recent years and Ghazouani, who currently chairs the African Union, has promised to manage threats from such groups.

Ghazouani has also made helping the young a key priority in a country with a population of 4.9 million, where almost three-quarters of people are under age 35.

After a first term hit by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the incumbent says he hopes to make more reforms thanks to a favourable economic outlook.

Ghazouani had also pledged to invest in renewable energy and expand gold, uranium and iron-ore mining.

Source: News Agencies