Mauritania calls elections despite threat of boycott


NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Mauritania announced on Saturday it would hold nationwide elections on Oct. 12 despite a pledge by the opposition to boycott the vote unless the president steps down.

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 coup and was elected a year later, but the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) has never accepted his rule as legitimate and is demanding he make way for a neutral leader to administer the vote. “The government has decided to convene the electoral college for the legislative and municipal elections for Oct. 12 for the first round and the 26th of the same month for the second round,” Communications Minister Mohamed Yahya Ould Hormah told a news conference in Nouakchott. The minister said campaigning would take place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 10 and vowed that advanced technology, including biometric voter registration, would be deployed to ensure the elections were “transparent and credible.” He said the government expected a strong turnout, despite the opposition boycott threat.