Elections in Mauritania: Repercussions and Consequences

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Presidential elections were held in Mauritania on 18th July, 2009 in which Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, the leader of the last coup was declared the winner with a vote-share of 52.58%. Immediately after the results were announced, Ahmed Ould Daddah, the head of the ‘Rally of Democratic Forces’ who is trying to lead the opposition and has garnered a vote-share of 13.66% rejected the election results which he said were prefabricated. It may be noted that Messaoud Ould Boulkheir of ‘Popular Alliance for Progress‘ secured second position with 16.29% of votes and he as well has rejected the results accusing them of being “prefabricated, meant to legitimise the coup that brought General Aziz to power.” All other parties received less than 5% of the votes.

The elections were first scheduled for 6th June, 2009 i.e. 45 days after the resignation of Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz from the presidency of the Supreme National Council which was formed in the aftermath of the 6th August, 2008 coup which replaced the former elected president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. The coup regime was forced to release the former president under US pressure on 23rd December, 2008. The then US State epartment spokesman Sean McCormack then stated: “The mere release of the elected president, under conditions that are yet to be determined, falls far short of the demands of the U.S. and the rest of the international community.” He added: “The U.S. reaffirms its call that the military junta step aside so President Abdullah can resume his functions as President and Mauritania be returned to legitimate, democratic, constitutional rule.” [Mauritanian News Agency 23rd December, 2008].

Under pressure from the United States and to overcome the crisis of illegitimacy of the Mauritanian regime, which came to power through a military coup, the incumbent president Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz decided to hold presidential elections after making sure of his victory. However, the US was ready to accept the dates of the elections as well as the process of under the military regime.

Therefore the opposition moved and demanded the compliance with the Dakar Accord which was signed in Nouakchott on 4th June, 2009 on the insistence of the deposed president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi that the military council be dissolved before a transitional governemnt is formed. This was because the Dakar Accord had called for the reinstating of the former president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi and for the formation of a transitinal government in order to hold the next presidential elections. It was then that Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi resigned but the military council was refusing to dissolve itself. Then on 26th June, 2009 the military council dissolved itself and declared that it was being re-formed as the National Defence Council under the transitional government. Then Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallah agreed to the formation of the transitional government and offerred his resignation and announced the elections to be held on 18th July, 2009.

France was behind the coup staged by Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz on the 6th August, 2008 since it was opposed to Ould Cheikh Abdallahi who was backed by the US. Thus it was a French coup staged by its agents against American agents. Even the French President Sarkozy had to publicly back the coup when he said: “The Mauritanian coup was not opposed or protested by any of the members of its parliament.” [German DPA News Agency 27th March, 2009]. The French had backed the candidacy of Ould Abdul Aziz when its foreign minister Bernard Kochner said: “Genral Ould Abdul Aziz can be a candidate for the elections if he demits office within 45 days of his nomination.” [Paris Afrigue Magazine: 22nd March, 2009]. This statement resulted in disturbing events and protests in Mauritania.

However the US did not accord recognition to the military coup and imposed santions on the coup leaders which were approved by the US Congress. It insisted in its demands for the reinstatement of Ould Cheikh Abdallah as the legitimate president. It worked consistently to first secure his release from jail and then lift the house-arrest that had been imposed on the ousted president and then reinstate him as the legitimate president and form a transitional government as provided in the Dakar Accord.

American demands continued until the military council dissolved itself and was forced along with Ould Abdul Aziz to recognise Ould Chiekh Abdullah and lift sanction that curtailed the deposed president’s political activity which were imposed by the military council for a period upto 2014. Thus with Ould Chiekh Abdullah becoming the legitimate president of the country and the illegitimate military rule being rendered void, America acheived its objectives atleast partially.

France has welcomed the recently held election process as good which concluded woithout any major disturbance. The French foreign ministry spokesman welcomed the election results and said they were free and fair, and added that these were conducted without any violations or foul-play and were fully transparent.

When the election results were officially confirmed and validated by the Mauritanian Constitutional Council on 23rd July, 2009 and Ould Abdul Aziz was declared as winner, Sarkozy sent a congradulatory telegram to him on his victory as the president of Mauritania and said: “the election of Mohammed Ould Abdul Aziz will make it possible to put an end to the uncertain transitions in Mauritania and this was neccessary to take the country out of its crisis and restore its relations with the international community.” He also strssed that: “All political forces in the country must now work to restore normal democratic activity.” He assured that France will always stand along with the people of Mauritania in order to assist them acheive development.” [Mauritaneed: 26.07.09].

The US responce to the election results remain negative, the US State Department spokesman Phillip Crolley said: “It is too early to take a final position on the elections.” He added: “Certains have been recorded during the electoral process. The views of the United States on the elections in Mauritania will only emerge after the results are confirmed and validated by the Constitutional Council of Mauritania.” [Mauritania Hassad: 21st July, 2009].

But now that the Mauritanian Constitutional Council has confirmed the results on July 23rd, 2009, the US does not recognise the legitimacy of the elections or of the new president Ould Abdul Aziz. It was announced on 26th July, 2009 that the US ambassador to Mauritania Mark Boulware would meet Ould Abdul Aziz in the first meeting of the US envoy with him since the military coup last year. But it did not indicate whether this implied recognition which it self means that the US is not satisfied with the elections and does not intend to recognise him for the time being, other wise the US envoy would have congradulated him on his victory.

On the other hand, Ahmed Ould Daye announced his resignation as head of the Mauritanian Elections Commission and cited what he called “suspicions about the authenticity of the elections held on 18th July. He said that he noticed, just as many others have observed that the election were held under normal conditions and in compliance with rules, but the complaints & contests that were addressed to the Constitutional Council have cast deep doubts in my heart about the authenticity of the elections.” [Radio Sawa: 23rd July, 2009].

This election commission official sought to cast doubts over the election process and even on the validation issued by the Constitutional Council and that is why he announced his resignation even before the decalaration of validation by the Constitutional Council. His resignation came exactly on the day when the Constitutional Council was to announce its position on the elections, and thus it appears that he had prior knowledge about the position of the Constitutional Council and he wanted to influence the outcome of the council which came later that day late night. His actions fit well with that of America which has not declared its acceptance of the elecetion results and has cast doubts about its fairness whiole awating the verification by the Constitutional Council.

As for the opposition front, Ahmed Ould Daddah, the head of the ‘Rally of Democratic Forces’ is trying to lead it and the Mauritanian, French and other European media have been projecting and covering him more than even Messaoud Ould Boulkheir of ‘Popular Alliance for Progress‘ who has secured more votes than Ahmed Ould Daddah in the elections. Rather Ahmed Ould Daddah initiated harmonious and friendly relations with Messaoud Ould Boulkheir and formed and an opposition alliance with him.

It may be mentioned that Ahmed Ould Daddah is a foster brother of Mukhtar Ould Daddah, the first president of Mauritania who was deposed in 1978 and was a minister and occupied many senior positions in his brothers government as well as later in successive regimes and he is a man of the ruling regime allied to France. He had supported Ould Abdul Aziz’s coup and was against Ould Chiekh Abdullah. In fact he has been scornful of Ould Chiekh Abdullah and he openly displayed his hostility towards him making mockery of his adversary. He was even more vocal than the coup leaders themselves. It appears that he his trying to hide the fact of his leading the opposition on behalf of France.

Thus the reigns of power and the armed forces will be under the French control and it will have its control over the opposition as well, if it succeeds in its objectives. However, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir who was praised by Ould Chiekh Abdullah and appointed as the speaker of the parliament during Ould Chiekh Abdullah’s term before the coup, has rejected the coup outright and thus his views on the coup are diagonally opposed to that of Ahmed Ould Daddah.

The Nouakchott news agency reported on 29th April, 2009 that Ahmed Ould Daddah discovered that the US embassy at Nouakchott had actually prepared the Dakar Accord which was signed by National Defence Front on behalf of the ‘Rally of Democratic Forces’ as well as several other opposition groups and organisations that were opposed to the post August 6th coup regime. He has been reported as having stated that the US embassy offered material inducements to him in exchange of accepting the Accord but he refused because the law forbids political parties to accept money from outside.

This audio tape was broadcast by it. He has thus exposed the opposition front of Messaoud Ould Boulkheir and other political parties opposed to Ould Abdul Aziz in a devillish manner. He has tried to praise himself for having refused US temptations, but then why does he support the military regime loyal to France! During the election campaign he said that if won the elections, he would be the president for all including Ould Abdul Aziz and will pardon him and not hold him to account for his coup.

Thus Ahmed Ould Daddah works in a very devilish manner on behalf of France and its allies and projects himself as being from the opposition, he even tries to head the opposition alliance. He has used his alliance with Messaoud Ould Boulkheir and others of the opposition against Ould Abdul Aziz to acheive his objective of leading the opposition. Political parties allied with Ould Abdul Aziz have exploited this audio recording and have begun to attack America and its position and its diplomatic manoeuvers around Mauritania.

Also they have targeted the intense activities of the US envoy and openly exposed his contacts as well as those of other embassy staff with different sections of Mauritanian parties, but at the same time they have turned a blind eye to the activities of the French in Mauritania. They have focussed on the activities of former US envoys especially that of former ambassador Joseph LeBaron who worked in Mauritania for three years until 2006. Joseph LeBaron could speak excellent Arabic and had very good relations with different sections in Mauritania when it was against US policies in the world generally and particularly in the Middle East.

All this clearly indicates that America has gained considerable influence in Mauritania and it is engaged in a fervent conflict with the French there. It also indicates that the US will apply considerable pressure upon Ould Abdul Aziz in order to embarrass him and strengthen its agents in the opposition alliance. It also means that America will continue to apply pressure in order to depose him and not be satisfied with Ould Abdul Aziz who came to power by dethroning a president (Ould Cheikh Abdullah) who was loyal to the Americans through elections. It means it will be tit for tat for France or even more than that. Just as its loyal and elected president had been deposed by the French, the US will work to dethrone two French-backed presidents.

It hurts and pains any concious Muslim who is concerned about his religion and his Muslim brothers that one of Muslim countries like Mauritania should become a stage for US-France confrontation and its people should become the agents of any of the colonialist powers by deviding the people as supporters of this or that side. It is deplorable that they have not stood up and rejected these colonialist powers who merely corrupt the Muslim lands. One is also pained that they have not initiated any serious and dedicated efforts to bring about a radical change which will liberate them from the clutches of the colonial powers and their agents. This is why their land remains a ferile ground for coups and regiome changes one after another and Mauritania is counted among countries that have had a record number of such regime changes in the last thirty years resulting in a vicious circle of violence and political clashes which have held back the progress and revival.

6th Sha’ban, 1430 A.H
27th July, 2009 C.E