Mauritanians vote in first post-coup poll

Mauritanians voted on Saturday in an election meant to signal to donors and investors the country is ready to rejoin the international community after a much-criticised military coup last August, Reuters reported.

Queues formed outside voting booths in the capital Nouakchott, with voters keen to participate in elections that were scheduled for June 6, but delayed in order to end an opposition boycott that would have damaged their credibility.

Junta leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is favourite to win the vote in the Sahara desert Islamic state, analysts say, but there are alternatives in Ely Ould Mohamed Vall as well as veteran opposition figure Ahmed Ould Daddah.

"This election represents the most important challenge ... where our country choses to either come out of a crisis which is a very grave crisis, and extremely dangerous for our country, or it chooses to remain in this crisis," said Vall.

"I think our country will choose to come out ... and in coming out of the crisis, avoiding the legalisation of a coup d'etat."

Vall mounted a coup in 2005, a popular move which ousted a long-standing military ruler and laid the foundations for the country's first free elections in 2007.

Abdel Aziz's promises of food and fuel price cuts are likely to endear him to Mauritanians, 40 percent of whom live under the poverty line.

"The most likely scenario is for Aziz to become leader, but this time through the ballot box," said Global Insight analyst Kissy Agyeman-Togobo.

International donors such as the European Union and United States halted aid programmes in protest at the coup, but a transparent vote would be a step towards restarting cooperation.

Neither the EU nor United Nations have sent observers, but there are more than 200 overseeing the election from organisations including the African Union -- which lifted sanctions this month -- and the Arab League.

Mohamed Hussein, a member of a civil society group, said Mauritanians appeared to be happy to vote.

"Everything is going well so far. We have visited a dozen polling stations and all the material is in place," he said.

Police shot and injured one man and arrested two others in an armed clash overnight in the same area of Nouakchott in which gunmen killed an American aid worker last month, a police source said. However, Saturday began peacefully.

"Police tried to enter a house and there was an exchange of fire," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A free vote would also set a positive example to the rest of the region, where military coups and constitutional crises have become a feature of politics in the past year.

"This crisis has lasted almost a year, and we're impatient to vote now. It's the only way of getting out of this crisis and returning to normality," said Oumar Dicko, who runs an Internet cafe in the sandy capital.

Abdel Aziz made combating terrorism a cornerstone of his justification for seizing power, accusing President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi of slackening off on al Qaeda.

Mauritania is an ally of the West in the fight against the group, though the international marginalisation that began after the August coup intensified when it shut the Israeli embassy in March in protest at the Jewish state's invasion of Gaza.

Until then, Mauritania had been one of only three Arab countries to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

"We are likely to see Aziz attempting to restore ties with traditional donors," Agyeman-Togobo said.

"But this will require something of a balancing act for the man who has adopted a more radicalised stance towards Israel, which could see relations with U.S. ally, Egypt, and other Western powers compromised."

Iraq reports 6,552 new COVID-19 cases, 970,987 in total
Iraq reports 6,552 new COVID-19 cases, 970,987 in total
Yemen's Houthi rebels say launch drone attack on Saudi air base
Yemen's Houthi rebels say launch drone attack on Saudi air base
Oil climbs to four-week high on strong China data, demand revival
Oil climbs to four-week high on strong China data, demand revival
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan shares footage from Tarovlu village of the Gubadli region (VİDEO)
Slovak investors note potential in Georgia's energy sector
Czechs expel 18 Russian envoys, accuse Moscow over ammunition depot blast
Azerbaijan's State Treasury Agency to update information systems via tender
Earthquake hits Georgia
Iran, Serbia FMs meet in Tehran
Magnitude 5.8 earthquake hits Japan
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 caseload up by 2,822
Iran's trade turnover with Pakistan shrinks
Brazil registers over 370,000 deaths from COVID-19
5.8-magnitude quake strikes off Japan's Miyagi Prefecture
Iraq reports 6,552 new COVID-19 cases, 970,987 in total
More than 805,000 COVID-19 infections detected worldwide over past 24 hours
5.1-magnitude quake hits 20 km S of Mandraki, Greece
Israel reports 142 new COVID-19 cases, 836,882 in total
Yemen's Houthi rebels say launch drone attack on Saudi air base
India's sports minister tests positive for COVID-19
Weekly review of highlights in Azerbaijan's transport sector
EU to hand over 30 vehicles to Georgia Border Police
Turkish scientist works on drug that can ‘kill COVID-19 in 2 days’
Uzbekistan may start production of its own vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of the year
Russia's Eastwind, Turkmenistan's Turkmensvyaz to sign contract
UK records another 2,206 coronavirus cases, 35 deaths
Iranian official offers upbeat assessment of progress in nuclear talks
Volume of goods transported by Azerbaijan’s vehicles in 2021 disclosed
Indonesia reports 5,041 new COVID-19 cases, 132 new deaths
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 3 mln - Johns Hopkins University
Geostat reveals volume of Russian exports to Georgia
Solar panel station put into operation in Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Province
New auction to be held for Azerbaijani Finance Ministry's mid-term bonds
Georgia increases import of vehicles from Turkey
Kyrgyzstan imposes restrictive measures at airports
Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds in Iran
Foreigners to pass simplified visa procedures for 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Serbian FM to visit Tehran today
Azerbaijan discloses number of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,148 more COVID-19 cases, 2,287 recoveries
Armenia falsified Caucasian Albania temples in Azerbaijan - rep of religious community
Iran to send trade attaché to Azerbaijan
Weekly review of major events in Azerbaijan's oil & gas sector
Azerbaijan shares footage from Jabrayil's Dash Veysalli village (VIDEO)
Armenia strived to create history for itself in Azerbaijan's lands - Head of Albanian-Udi community
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 17
Volume of loaded and unloaded cargo in Iran’s Charak port climbs
Azerbaijani oil prices on rise
VICE News report on Armenia's attack on Azerbaijani Barda nominated for award
Weekly review of main events in ICT sector of Azerbaijan
Earnings from fuel savings in Iran paid to investors
Uzbekistan's CCI, Portuguese Industrial Association establish co-op
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Rosatom, Uzbekistan working on contract for building nuclear power plant
Turkmenistan to create electronic exchange database
IMF calls on Georgia to reduce capital expenditures in case of lockdown
Russia reports a new high of 9,321 coronavirus cases since March 20
Azerbaijan's Albanian-Udi Christian community members visit ancient temple in Tugh - Trend TV (PHOTO)
OSCE MG should force Armenia to follow terms of trilateral statement - Azerbaijan's Parliament
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Azerbaijan, Turkic Council discuss creation of joint digital tools
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
EU rep should follow int'l law before meeting with separatist in Karabakh - expert
Potential areas of Turkmenistan’s interaction within Visegrad Group+Central Asia framework identified
Georgia reports 1,219 new coronavirus cases for April 17
Georgia holds auction for privatization of state property
Azerbaijani MP talks about spring session of IPA CIS held in Russia's St. Petersburg
Georgia continues to conduct research on Namakhvani HPP
Iran unveils details exports from Maragheh County
Kazakhstan reveals total number of TEU containers shipped along Aktau-Baku feeder line
There have always been good grape varieties in Pirshaghi – white and black Shani - President Aliyev
Participants of Azercell Student Bursary and Internship Programs share their success stories
Iran boosts aluminum ingots production
Azerbaijani police find mortar shells, detonators left by Armenia in Gubadly (VIDEO)
Iran declares amount of loans issued to SMEs
Kazakhstan's revenues from road cargo transportation down
Concept of ensuring security of Afghan section of TAPI signed
Members of Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan visit liberated Khojavand (PHOTO)
Australia to continue review of COVID vaccinations - health minister
Italian media outlets highlight speech of Azerbaijani president at int'l conference in Baku
Kazakhstan decreases import of Ukraine-made goods y-o-y
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary opens tender to buy compressors
Azerbaijan sets up structure to work on urban planning in liberated lands
Kazakhstan's oil & gas company opens tender to develop consolidated time standards
Meeting of EU special rep with so-called "FM of Karabakh" promotes separatism, says Azerbaijani expert
Iranian currency rates for April 17
Iran to increase vaccinations as fourth wave of COVID-19 rises
Iran reaches target uranium enrichment
Oil demand to keep on rising in May, June 2021
Work on provision of electricity to Azerbaijan's liberated Sugovushan nearing completion
Bulgaria sees Georgia as valuable partner
Significant number of Georgian citizens register for employment program in Israel
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 caseload up by 2,822
Ukraine receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine under COVAX initiative
IMF corrects estimate on Iran's foreign exchange bank reserves
Azerbaijan attracting foreign investments for renewable energy projects
Uzbekistan to open an embassy in Sweden
Global COVID-19 infection rate approaching highest: WHO
Portugal resumes flights to Brazil, Britain
Turkey reports over 63,000 daily COVID-19 cases
EU eyes to provide grants to Georgian non-profit organizations
Israel reports 41 new COVID-19 cases, 836,740 in total
Biden signs order keeping Trump-era refugee cap at 15,000
All news