Mauritania Islamist party puts forward first presidential candidate since 2009Thu, 02 May 2024 19:58:09 GMT

Mauritania’s Islamist opposition party on Thursday said its leader would be standing in the presidential election scheduled for June 29, the first time it has fielded a candidate for the post in 15 years.Hamadi Ould Sid’ El Moctar will represent the National Rally for Reform and Development, also known as Tewassoul, which was legalised in 2007 and has since become the leading opposition party in the Mauritanian parliament with 11 out of 176 MPs.Tewassoul boycotted the 2014 presidential election and supported a candidate from outside its ranks in 2019.Incumbent President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani is the favourite to win the June poll after announcing he would stand for a second term on April 24.Ghazouani, 67, has been at the helm of the vast West African country since 2019 and provided stability in the Sahel region, which faces rising jihadism.Tewassoul said that it had decided to put forward a candidate after a “long debate” which concluded that there was a “need to change the deplorable situation into which the regime has plunged the country”.”Mauritanian citizens are dreaming of this change and are counting on the commitment and dynamism of our supporters and all the opposition forces to vote against the government’s candidate in order to achieve it,” it said in a statement.Nearly a dozen other contenders have so far announced their candidacies, including human rights activist Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, who came second in the 2019 vote.Mauritania, which has a population of around 4.5 million, was hit by a series of coups from 1978 to 2008, before the 2019 election marked the first transition between two elected presidents.While jihadism has spread elsewhere in the Sahel, particularly in neighbouring Mali, Mauritania has not seen an attack since 2011.Under the terms of a presidential decree issued this month, the electoral campaign will begin at midnight on June 14 and end at midnight on June 27.