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Sep 1, 2018 146 tweets 32 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Mauritania election day: the incident happened in Boutlimit where the ruling party's campaign boss was caught printing ballots - the citizens sized it along with the printer
Mauritania election day: Mauritanians are asked to elect MP's, regional council reps in lieu of the dissolved Senate, and mayors. Unlike past elections, there's a flood of candidates. The voting ballot is a few dozen centimeters long
Mauritania election day: the context is tense because the current President's term end by June '19, he's said many times he's leaving, but given his history, few believe he's leaving.
Even more interesting, Aziz just took off after voting to Beijing to participate in some conference in China. A rare odd move, it's as if he's taking a leap forward from a possible electoral defeat for his party
Mauritania election day: these are the first truly suspenseful elections in the country since 2007 not by design but by accident. A combination of regime miscalculations, a proportionate system, and mass discontent may turn the elections upside down for the ruling party
By canceling the Senate last year, the regime caused a rebellion within its own ruling party. then the process of nominations for party slots for MP's, Regional councils, infuriated many loyalists driving them to run as independents
Meanwhile, the opposition unenthusiastically agreed to participate in the elections thinking it will be more of the same, what was unexpected is the sheer number of independent lists and micro parties running which created a very crowded field
The other fatal flaw: the proportionate system which was historically introduced to check in the domination of the opposition in the big cities & ensure the ruling party always came within the top 2. Due to the sheer number of candidates, the ruling party is likely suffocating
This realization only sunk in late in the game because Aziz and the ruling party thought they could count on the "independents'" vote, but the independents shrugged them off. This led to Aziz's near hysterical speech at the campaign end 2 nights ago.
Election day in Mauritania: fundamentally, these elections are interesting because as the Arab world sinks in darkness, Mauritanian has a fleeting chance at humbling the regime by the ballot box.. could also go south with massive fraud
Mauritania election day: the ruling party's may be heading towards the unthunkable-- not having an absolute majority in parliament. That coupled with Aziz's term limit is akin to a political earthquake. It puts military supremacy in jeopardy -- and all of this BY the ballot box
Mauritania election day: innovative fraud techniques -- 50 off duty military personnel try to vote in a bureau in Nouadhibou while unregistered. opposition parties' election observers sent them packing.
Mauritania election day: innovative fraud techniques -- seeing this, the head of the voting bureau stepped in to allow the unregistered soldiers to vote claiming: "they were in a training mission away from their original place of residence"
Mauritania election day: because of the sheer number of candidates, having to fill 5 ballots, invalid votes are expect to be high like in this bureau as of 10 mins ago: 117 ballots counted, all invalid
Mauritanian election day: as of 6PM local time (3 hours ago) the deputy head of the election commission said the turnout as of then was 57% -- this is HIGH.
Mauritanian election day: on facebook which is the big platform in Mauritania, sarcasm is at a height tonight
"The Shawarma voting bureau
700 registered voters
701 invalid votes"
Seen on Mauritanian Facebook
"Get me married and I'll vote" written on one of the ballots in a voting bureau 😂😂
Mauritania election day: a friend wrote about his voting experience in the capital - took him 5 hours in cues to get to cast his vote
Mauritania election day: now we need to discuss a bit the ideological side of things in Mauritania's election. This aspect where very little is available in English - a structural problem hampering those who want to understand the country.
Let's begin with the ruling party, the UPR (Union for The Republic) - this is not a party in the real sense, it's a conglomerate of interests with no ideology whatsoever. What binds it together is the idea that opposing the State is a road to perdition.
Probably the most distinguishing feature of the "State's Party" is that it's where the same elites, tribal leaders, officials, bureaucrats go because it's the party of whoever is the President at the time.
The same elites from both communities (Arabic-speaking & Afro-Mauritanians) sign up for the ruling party to get jobs, or keep them. The contract is "we keep the opposition out of our areas, you give us privileges"
There are other parties on the so-called majority side, but they're really not anything but 1-man shows with tribal or regional spices on top. These are satellites of the ruling party.
On the opposition side, the big players are RFD (Centter Left Conservatives), Tawassul (Islamists), UFP (ex Communists), Sawab (Coalition of Baathists & Abolitionists), APP (Nasserists + Abolitionists)
As the results come out, the Islamist Tawassul party is making historical breakthroughs. Tawassul ideologically is a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired organization home to both Ikhwanis, Salafis and ultra social conservatives. Technically it's a rightwing party.
Tawassul's secret potion for success was: granular grassroots organizing, playing on tribal networks, crossing the ethnic divide, and a simple message: we're not corrupt, we're the home of the downtrodden, join regardless of ethnicity or region - "we're all Muslims"
Example of Tawassul's tactical master coups: pushing in Zoueirate, a mining town and a labor union's stronghold for an alliance - result: the ruling party's candidate who was assured of winning is heading to the 2nd round against the local Tawassul-AJDMR coalition.
Now the RFD, the oldest and most prominent Mauritanian opposition party which started in 1992 as the host of all of the above ideological currents before splitting into their own parties - a big tent of sorts
The RFD bore the brunt of the military's electoral fraud and depending of who you talk to had the Presidency stolen from it at least in 1 or 2 elections (1992, 2007) - its leader Ahmed Ould Daddah is a reference point in Mauritanian political life.
The RFD is a coalition of conservative older elites, disaffected working classes, with a particular strength in the big cities and parts of the Mauritanian West. Its electorate is where Tawassul & other groups have been competing to take over.
The UFP is the other major historic opposition party, and the standard bearer of the Left. It's a coalition of ex Maoists, Afro-Mauritanian & Moorish working class, Intellectuals and labor unions.
The UFP, like the RFD, is struggling to renew its vigor. Its youth has been at odds with its historical leadership over vision, positioning. A struggle for purity of sorts. But it remains the country's intellectual powerhouse.
What is remarkable about the RFD and UFP is the loyalty of the base towards the historical leadership. Both have almost become cultural icons. they've become synonymous with the word "opposition".
Now the Sawab coalition, which is a marriage of convenience between the country's Baathist dinosaurs & the rising star firebrand Biram Ould Dah - the founder of the abolitionist I.R.A currently in jail.
The Baathists of Sawab struck and alliance with Biram Dah Abeid to give him an electoral platform to run from so they avoid having thei registration struck because of their lack of electoral results - Biram got what the state denied him - a party to run through
The Biram (I.R.A) alliance with the Sawab Baathists alienated many of Biram's Afro-Mauritanian backers because the Baathists were the theorists who rationalized the State crimes against them in 1987-1990: mass killings, exclusion, deportations
The paradox in the case of Biram Dah Abeid is that his international prominence as the face of the Haratine struggle for full equality isn't necessarily reflective of an actual domination of the Haratine voice inside Mauritania. He's just the most radical of the Haratine leaders
Although Biram is unjustly imprisoned, ultimately his movement and alliance with the Baathists hasn't translated in any significant electoral gains. Functionally, the regime uses him as a scarecrow to saw division & ethnic tensions.
The other major opposition party is the APP. An alliance between Haratines & Nasserists led by the emblematic Massaoud Ould Boulkheir. Historical leader of the Haratine, ex speaker of parliament, and kingmaker in the last true democratic presidential elections in '07
Massaoud Ould Boulkheir is the most prominent co-founder of Akhouka Al Hartani and co-author of its historical manifesto of 1981 which was the launching point of the Haratine's struggle for equality in Mauritania. His critics claim he runs his party like a tribal chief.
Whereas others claim that the APP's Massaoud Ould Boulkheir ultimately failed as serving as a bridge between the opposition & a regime that's not interested in sharing power with anyone not under the ruling party's banner.
Electorally-speaking Massaoud Ould Boulkheir remains the most important Haratine figure in Mauritania. According to the latest result the Sawab+Biram Dah coalition best score was among diaspora voters in France. Whereas the APP is competitive in the Capital Nouakchott.
The 1st round outcome: probably the biggest winner is Tawassul, Massaoud remains the uncontested Haratine leader of Mauritania, the ruling party got shaken badly but will still dominate due to fraud etc.. Aziz is on a visit to Beijing & Pyongyang 😂😂
Mauritanian facebook election humor is off the charts tonight -- describing the 1st round : "The 4-legged voter"
Mauritania elections: results day, 1- overall Tawassul & local allies still in shock & awe mode
run off in unexpected places against the ruling party.
2- Results coming out slowly partly because of the fight to prevent government fraud like in Boutilimit (photo)
Mauritania elections Recap: 1.1 Million voters went to the polls on Saturday for the first round of mayoral, legislative & regional councils (Senatorial). The second round is on September 15.
Mauritania election fraud: in theory, the country has a an Independent Electoral Commission. It's composed from reps from different parties. It has reps in voting bureaus. However that's not where all of this begins.
The process begins in the electoral registry -- after Mauritania got a full biometric census & registry, voters are put in databases which are controlled by the state. People go and register, but the ruling party bosses who are also THE ADMINISTRATION have copies.
So in the pre-election phases, the ruling party goes and hordes electors ID cards in order to pre-plan how much votes they can deploy in areas they need.
Phase 2 - Election day: voters show up to vote but those known to be part of the opposition, or districts known to be for the opposition, people get told "yes you're registered, but in.. x place often hundreds of kilometers away" - a few clicks in the database ensure that.
Phase 2.1 - Election day: ruling party reps make sure their voters get multiple ballots to vote with, and different ID's & they repeat it in different bureaus.
Phase 2.2 - Ruling party apparatchiks have tents and cars where they fill ballots outside of the voting bureaus & put them in ballot boxes that will later be introduced in voting bureaus.
Phase 2.3 voting bureau heads often government officials would prevent opposition reps from observing the ballot counting OR let them see it BUT write & sign the final report in their absence & deny them access to it filling the result they want.
Phase 2.3 This is what happened in Boutilimit (photo) and multiple places, the opposition though blockaded the voting bureaus preventing the physical exit of the signed voting report because once it's gone the damage is irreversible
Phase 2.3 as this goes on, the police, gendarmes whose job is to provide security would actually intervene on behalf of the ruling party's bosses to kick out or handle the opposition reps to ensure the fraud goes unhindered.
Phase 3: once the fraudulent voting reports are sent to the Interior Ministry, the damage is irreversible. The Interior Minister himself is a ruling party appointee will certify the result. In theory one can file complaints with electoral commission and the courts.. Good luck ;)
Mauritania Election Recap: that was an abbreviated primer on how fraud is done by the ruling party which controls the security forces, the administration, and has their vast resources. This is why most opposition parties boycotted prior elections.
Mauritania election: the ruling party had announced that it enrolled 1 million members prior to the elections. And the President himself claimed this number last week. There are 1.4 million electors registered to vote 😂
So why do ppl enroll in the ruling party? because if they openly say they oppose it, then they've written themselves off from gov jobs, promotions, scholarships, or enrollment in the armed forces. So people enroll, but they vote what they want.
An example of this dynamic: the ruling party claimed it enrolled 11000 members in the populous Arafat district of the capital. Guess what? they got only 5500 votes.
Mauritania is hardly an exception, this is basically how authoritarian regimes GLOBALLY empty democracy from its substance, and turn elections into a mere mechanical ritual where there's the illusion of choice, but no real change.
As the day goes on, the reports are trickling in about Fraud phase 2.3 (see above): in Baseknou, Nema, Tembadgha, the opposition reps are being actively prevented from seeing the voting report while the ruling party reps are getting full access.
An example of the ongoing voting reports battle, this time from Akjoujt -- lady from the opposition leading the charge to prevent the report from being edited behind closed doors - unfortunately twitter not letting me upload videos for 2 days now!
Mauritania election: as of 3 hours ago, votes have been counted for

- %35 of votes for Mayors
- %31 of votes for Legislative
- %30 of votes for regional councils
- %21 of votes for National Women's list
Mauritania election: fraud sample from the capital - voting results "edited" with a pen by the voting bureau before it gets fed into the computer - ruling party siphoning small parties' votes
Mauritania election - %30 of votes counted in the capital for Legislative lists - Tawasul leads with %15.9, Ruling party %12.2, RFD %4.8. - counting all the opposition parties together, they're leading ahead of the ruling party. The capital has a 1/4 of the entire population.
Mauritania election: After %60 of votes were counted, it turns out that %42 of the entire ballots cast for the legislative race were invalid. This is more votes than the ruling party or Tawassul got. Not surprising given how complicated the ballot is, but still shocking.
However what makes it suspicious is that the number of invalid ballots in the capital Nouakchott is exactly HALF that of the country's interior regions (%21) - arithmetically too neat a rate to be only random..
Mauritania election: confirming a rule - fraud is easier in the interior than the big cities - in Boutilimit ppl found pre-signed voting reports which basically means that those who have those (the ruling party) can slap in whatever result they want
Boutilimit oppostion stand off with police commissioner:
- Give me back my phone
- No I will not, beat it now. I'm no longer talking to any of you
- No to vote fraud
- If you film me I'll break your phone
- I dare you
Mauritania election:
A lone voting bureau in Mauritania's vast interior.. ballot boxes pushed through the mud & guarded by arms
Democracy is a struggle..
Mauritania election: opposition leaders in a protest sit-in against fraud at the independent national electoral commission - the supposedly regulatory body supervising elections. The dilemma: if u participate in the election it gets stolen, if u don't you're "anti-democratic"
Mauritania election: the opposition is particularly incensed by the African Union's statement claiming the elections were "satisfactory and normal" thus legitimizing ruling part fraud
Mauritania election: another bureau in Mauritania's vast interior.. a reminder to those who have the luxury of a functioning democracy not to take their votes for granted..
Mauritania election: nature weighs in on the election providing the perfect metaphor of how the rulers see the country, and the ruled see it: the regime touts it built that road, the ruled point out its drowning - a capital without a functioning sewer system
Mauritania election: meet this election's sensation - Mohamed Lamine Sidi Maouloud, ran from a small independent party - his secret weapon: Facebook. Got elected through his facebook posts popularity.
Mauritania election: the success of Facebook star Sidi Mouloud Who ran on a platform of transparency, reform, diversity is indicative of major shifts in Mauritania's urban political culture - citizenship away from ideology, tribes, ethnicity. A resounding rejection of the system
Mauritania election: to understand the significance of the "Facebook Candidate" win we need a bit of historical context -- "The Koubani Model" is key here.
Mauritania election: Koubani is a town in Mauritania's eastern Hodh region. It's the poster child of tribal politics & State fraud. Relatively speaking, the opposite of Nouakchott. In the interior, tribal chiefs historically sided with the State no matter what.
Mauritania election - The Koubani model: so in 1992, the first multi-party system. The local tribal leaders sided with the ruling party. The result of the vote was: 17000 votes for the ruling party. Hiccup: only 4000 ppl were registered to vote in Koubani
Mauritania election: the young "Facebook Candidate" and his generation grew up with the Koubani model. Their experience of elections except for 2006-2007 was: the State will win no matter what. So the breakthrough was for him & his generation to persevere regardless.
Mauritania election: the Koubani model is no longer sustainable for the ruling party in the big cities which are to begin with de-tribalized politically,a melting pot of the country's different ethnic groups, and historically opposition hotbeds.
Mauritania election - ultra-grassroots: these factors are what led the "Facebook Candidate" in addition to his electronic footprint, and organizing via WhatsApp to get elected without actually anyone noticing, myself included.
Mauritania election: this is what the system fears most, especially now as the President's term ends in June '19, engaged urban youth citizens organizing effectively away from political money, tribes, ethnic politics.
Mauritania election: the global lesson here is that although the electoral process in authoritarian regimes is rigged against the opposition, the authoritarian grip can be slowly eroded over time from the bottom up.
Mauritania election: "vote for the ruling party candidate to preserve these scenic views" - sarcastic jibes at the ruling party's inability to build a functioning sewage system in the capital #accountability #governance
Mauritania election -- Results: out of the 18 MP's allotted for Nouakchott (the capital) 12 went to the opposition. Thus, the nation's capital & home to 1/4 of its population is an opposition bastion.
Mauritania election - Nouakchott results: the fact that the ruling party got trounced in the capital is the normal state of things, but the ruling party took its results from the last elections boycotted by the opposition for granted.
Mauritania election: the full results aren't out yet, but the general trend is holding - mass discontent with the ruling party & regime. Had the elections been fully transparent, the ruling party would have lost even bigger
photo via saharamedia
Mauritania election: the 2nd round of elections is scheduled for Sep 15. so far 9 parliament seats, 6 regional councils, and several mayoral races are up for grabs.
Mauritania election: the 9 seat in play for Parliament are the most indicative of the political earthquake that hit Mauritania. 2 of which only were ever competitive for the opposition. The rest the ruling party since 92 always won automatically.
Mauritania election: the regional councils are the successor to the Senate, cancelled last summer via a "referendum" that verifiably fraudulent & with a low voter turnout.
Mauritania election:
a- the regional councils in theory are supposed to be like France's regional councils managing & steering development.
b- The hiccup is that the law defining their functioning, authority, budgets has not been passed yet!
Mauritania election: the regional councils were a device used by the regime to get rid of the Senate because it began to get out of control, and could have been a major obstacle should the President try to remove term limits to stay in power after June 2019
Mauritania election: the regional councils are also an effective way for the regime to keep its tribal and regional patronage networks fed & happy through seats, jobs and budgets. In other words, it's designed to be a LEGAL bribe & electoral tool for the ruling party.
Mauritania election: the war of words around the 2nd round is escalating - the regime trying to leverage anti-islamist feelings against main opposition winner Tawassoul, opposition seems to close ranks with aim to punish the ruling party by voting Tawassoul
Mauritania election: the opposition's rational in backing Tawassoul is:
a- bar the road for the President staying beyond his term in June 19
b- a popular desire to PUNISH the ruling elites for the country's dismal socio-economical situation
d- mark its territory for post-Aziz
Mauritania election: the truth is that the opposition is making a pragmatic alliance with Tawassoul to undermine the system. There's no love lost among all players. The regime is trying to drive a wedge between opposition members in order to divide their vote
Mauritania election: the current alignment of the opposition is going to be tested during the next presidential election in June 19 - I doubt they'll agree to a unified presidential candidate put forward by Tawassoul.
Mauritania election: it's a bit simplistic to portray Mauritania's election like the MB's victory in Egypt. Mauritania islamists are in a more precarious position despite their spectacular gains.
Mauritania election: for one to fully grasp why the opposition parties are behaving the way they're doing, we have to go back to the original sin that shaped the entire political landscape we have today in Mauritania.
Mauritania election: after Aziz's coup in '08, and the gridlock, the opposition was coaxed and forced by foreign powers to negotiate in Dakar with Aziz: Gaddafi, Sarkozy, Senegal and even the US played along.
Mauritania election: the foreign powers told the opposition that they can't do a thing to prevent Aziz from staying in power, and that should the opposition insist on not dealing, they'll be cut off anyway & Aziz will get to run for the elections with or without them.
Mauritania election: the opposition thus was forced to accept the Dakar agreement which was in effect a gift to Aziz allowing to run a campaign on his terms, and "win" without any of the opposition's grievances addressed.
Mauritania election: the lesson the opposition drew from that episode was that participating in elections with Aziz is a waste of time. The only ones who took a different view were Tawassoul.
Mauritania election: Tawassoul saw an opportunity to break the supremacy of the RFD by participating in the elections in '14 & thus become the opposition leader in parliament.
Mauritania election: facing the taciturn opposition, Aziz himself kept on denouncing the opposition demanding they play along. Aziz's conditions were: no pre-conditions from opposition, no national unity government i.e demanded they capitulate.
Mauritania election: the second measure Aziz took was to create domesticated opposition made of small parties who agreed to "dialogue" in exchange for privileges - this became known as "the dialoguing opposition"
Mauritania election: in the mean time Aziz and the ruling party feeling they were nearing total victory by wearing down the traditional opposition parties (RFD, UFP, APP etc.) proposed a national dialogue which was designed to create a façade of democratic dialogue.
Mauritania election: that dialogue was boycotted by the traditional opposition parties all united under the umbrella of the "National Forum For Unity & Democracy"
Mauritania election: the opposition feels that the national dialogue was a maneuver by the regime in order to begin the process implementing changes in order to amend the constitution in order to open the door for term-limit removal.
Mauritania election: by the time the national dialogue was over, 1 of its outcomes was the decision to eliminate the Senate. This caused a rebellion among Senators & their patronage networks including some regime loyalists. Felt used and dumped by Aziz.
Mauritania election: during the national dialogue the ruling party's loyalists tried to introduce an item allowing the removal of term limits which almost scuttled the whole thing, it caused an uproar among participants.
Mauritania election: and sneakily during the national dialogue the regime proposed and obtained the abolishment of the High Court of Justice which was the only institution that could have put a sitting president on trial & introduce articles of impeachment.
Mauritania election: additionally, the regime obtained changing the nation's flag, and anthem during the national anthem. The only real concession was introducing more proportionality in the electoral system - a measure that backfired las week spectacularly against Aziz's party.
Mauritania election: by the time the referendum to implement the constitutional amendments agreed upon came by the opposition was further convinced that Aziz is simply maneuvering to stay in power - and thus boycotted the referendum which was fraudulent & scarcely attended.
Mauritania election: in the meantime having learned the lesson, the regime created ambiguity around whether Aziz will REALLY leave in June '19. His loyalists still repeat the mantra that the constitution isn't holy scripture & should be changed for him to stay.
Mauritania election: the mantra of Aziz staying was even sung by the gov's spokesman. While Aziz himself said exactly the opposite in media interviews to national & international media. Yet, his loyalists including gov ministers were NEVER admonished for not toeing the line
Mauritania election: due to the above which is the real context to the current elections it becomes clear what's REALLY at stake here -- it's Aziz himself. Does he stay or leave in June '19, the rest is trivia that ONLY outsiders who don't understand Mauritania care about.
Mauritania election: Mauritania being Mauritania, here's what most Mauritanians I know think -- "ANYTHING but AZIZ. We will settle for a military coup provided it rids us of Aziz"
Mauritania election: if one understands this, then it becomes clear why opposition parties are willing to ally, vote and coordinate with Islamists because the goal hasn't change since '09: Get Rid of Aziz
Mauritania election: now why does the opposition not believe Aziz is leaving: their point is that given his long history of graft & corruption, they don't believe a second he'll leave just as Mauritania is going to reap profits from the gigantic offshore natural gas discoveries
Mauritania election: so why does the opposition parties go into an election they know will favor Tawassoul and the ruling party more than themselves? coz Mauritania law says any party not participating for 2 elections or get less than %2 gets its license revoked.
Mauritania election: so Tawassoul came on top because of objective reasons the other opposition lacked -
a- 5 years of planing & participation
b- a very well oiled grassroots machine
c- lots of money
d- a clear narrative
e- mass discontent
d- empty space
Mauritania election:
Q- so why is the opposition's mood is so buoyant although the ruling party will still have a majority in Parliament?
A- They feel, not wrongly, that for the 1st time since '05 Aziz is cornered. They believe they can further corner him in order to get him out
Mauritania election - a historical first: the ruling party has 53-57 MP's. It's 2-4 seats away from losing the majority, and if so would need to ally with another party to ensure a majority.
Mauritania election: the RFD, the historical leader of Mauritania's opposition party officially issued clear instructions to its followers to vote for Tawassoul or anyone facing the ruling party in the 2nd round on Sept 15
Mauritania election: one of my own personal regrets is that Mrs Maalouma Bint Blal from the APP lost her MP seat. She's a trail brazer in the Haratine community, arguably the most influential & inspiring Haratine woman in the country.
Mauritania election: Briam Abeid Dah the head of the I.R.A abolitionist movement got elected to Parliament despite being in prison vindicating his alliance with the Baathist Sawab.
Mauritania election: the interesting "peculiarity" has been the votes of the armed forces & police which "of course" went to the ruling party granting it an additional seat in parliament in Nouakchott, and saving it from a crushing loss in the regional council's race.
Mauritania election: basically, the armed forces and police votes in Nouakchott were over %50 "for" the ruling party. What is however odd is that the other half went to the opposition. Translation: the ruling party gorged itself on the military vote because it CAN.
Mauritania election: the ruling party can do WHATEVER it wants with the votes of the members of the armed forces; by law they can't contest any fraud, anomaly or even express a political opinion
Mauritania election: the official results came last night. Let's start with Parliament (157 seats)
- The Ruling Party 67
- Tawassoul 15
- UDP 6
- El Karama 5
- AND 4
- RFD 3
- Sawab 3
- APP 3
Mauritania election: the above list is not the complete list, no space here for it, but the lesson is: the Islamist Tawassoul became the opposition's pack leader in Parliament. And received unconditional backing of other opposition parties in the run-off round next Sept 15
Mauritania election: the second take away is that the fact that over 44 seats remain up for grabs in Parliament, and 9 regional councils in the second round is in itself a novelty. The ruling party had never to sweat it this much.
Mauritania election: the ruling party already has a majority in Parliament, that was never in doubt, but the real race for the opposition is to block it from getting a 2/3 majority which allows it to amend the constitution allowing Aziz to get other terms in office.
The ruling party as of now needs 17 seats to gain absolute majority. Should that happen, then Aziz will be able to change the constitution - contrary to his own oath of office & promises - to eliminate office term limits.
Mauritania election: when I say ruling party, I am also counting the de facto alliance between it and the so-called majority parties ( for example UDP etc..) they're satellites of the ruling party.
Mauritania election: an example of the "majorities parties" that are de facto in alliance of the ruling part is the UDP. Headed by Mrs Naha Bint Mouknass, veteran politician, and first female Arab foreign minister.
Mauritania election: the other REAL winners are the so-called majority's parties, and the so-called "dialoguing opposition" the 1st are really extensions of the ruling party, the latter a puppet opposition propped by the regime. Now they'll have more bargaining power
Mauritania election: their bargaining power will be that they'll hold the key (assuming the opposition fails in the 2nd round) to allow the regime to amend the constitution to remove term limits. But their problem is that it'll be a one off, not permanent power once they give in.
Mauritania election: now to the more in-depth structural changes in Mauritania's politics. The issue of proportional districts vs absolute majority districts. This in time will have some considerable consequences.
Mauritania election: these elections saw the introduction of 9 new districts with 27 parliament seats with the proportional vote. traditionally that was the case only the big cities & was a safety valve for the regime to undermine the opposition's dominance there.
Mauritania election: the regime's gamble introducing the proportional districts in areas which were always electoral reservoirs made it possible for:
- the opposition to be competitive there
- gave dissident ruling party members a means to pressure the party bosses
Mauritania election: the introduction of the new proportional districts in the interior was designed to give space for satellite so-called majority parties to make gains & create a sense of choice. But them getting more clout & independence wasn't the original intention
Mauritania election: why is relevant? remember, when Aziz started agitating against his democratically-elected civilian predecessor, his first tool were the so-called "parliament battalion" - these politicians shifted immediately their allegiance, and later became the UPR

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