Friday, April 20, 2007

Mauritanian Democracy

Jonathan Edelstein was the go-to blog for analysis of Mauritania's Presidential elections, but CEIP sums things up:
"The resulting presidential election was distinguished by heated competition between ideologically distinct political forces as well as many independents, revealing the richness of the Mauritanian political arena. The elections also laid bare the division between two major camps nearly evenly dividing the political sphere. The first is that of the former regime, which supported President-elect Abdullahi, and the second consists of the former opposition forces, which stood behind the runner-up Ahmed Ould Dadah, an economist and brother of a former president. The first round's electoral results failed to give any of the nineteen candidates a winning majority, while the second round showdown between Abdullahi and Ahmed Ould Dadah ended with Abdullahi winning with 53 percent of the vote. Curiously, women did not play as prominent a role in the elections as they do in normal Mauritanian political life; two parties are headed by women and there are three female ministers in the current government.

"Perhaps most encouraging was the high voter turnout: nearly 71 percent in the first round and 66 percent in the second, reflecting Mauritanians' confidence in the electoral process. Mauritanian and European observers gave the elections high marks for fairness. The African Union, which had suspended Mauritania's membership after the 2005 coup, readmitted the country on April 12."

It's easy to allow free elections when you're pretty sure you're going to win them, but this is still a great development. I would be interested in seeing a democratic nation get a voice within the Arab League, even one as far-off as Mauritania.



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