From State Journal
Mauritanians voted Saturday to choose their next president, but the incumbent seems certain to retain power because of a boycott by major opposition parties.
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who assumed power in a coup in 2008 and won elections a year later, has been a staunch ally of the West in facing the growing terror threat in West Africa.
The National Forum for Democracy and Unity, a coalition of main opposition parties, decided to exclude themselves from the contest when the election date was chosen without their input. They complained that Aziz’s control of state institutions would ensure his victory and described the vote as “grotesque theater.”
Security forces guarded polling stations as voters cast their ballots amid mixed turnout. But in the capital city’s poorer outskirts, which are Aziz strongholds, long lines formed. In some areas, so many people were still in line when polling stations were supposed to close that voting was extended.
Aziz faces four candidates, one of whom is the descendent of slaves.
Provisional results are expected overnight and official results Monday. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff vote will be held July 5.
Aziz is from the country’s ethnic Arab elite that long has dominated the ruling class, but his policies have made him popular among the poor black majority.
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