Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mauritania: Military and Politicians agree to postpone election

Representatives of Mauritania’s opposition political parties and the country’s military government are expected to Wednesday officially sign an agreement to delay the presidential election that was been scheduled for this week.

The elections were to take place this Saturday, but opposition parties had said they would boycott the poll to protest the military government's election timetable.

The new agreement, which was brokered by Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, paves the way for opposition parties to participate in the July 18 vote.

Mohamed Fal Sidatt is a former vice president of the Mauritanian community in the United States and a member of the main opposition National Front for the Defense of Democracy.

He told VOA the agreement was made possible through strong international community in put.

"The military had to make real compromise. They had to postpone because they already scheduled and started their campaign almost 13 days ago...So this postponement of this election and this compromise that has been made are clearly signs that the international community were strong in their position that this type of coup d’etat cannot go unpunished,” he said.

Military leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz toppled Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, Mauritania's first freely elected president in August last year.

The African Union suspended Mauritania and imposed a travel ban on members of the military government after General Aziz ignored an AU call to reinstate the deposed president.

Sidatt said even though the African Union had imposed sanctions against the military government, Tuesday night’s announcement of a compromise might mute some of the requirements of the sanctions.

“Basically with this announcement, there is a commitment from the international community that all these decisions will be avoided once the agreement is signed. And there will be a board of members of all these international communities that will supervise these elections,” Sidatt said.

One of the conditions of the African Union sanctions was for the military government to restore deposed Mauritania's first freely elected President Abdallahi to power.

Sidatt said as a compromise, the new agreement requires the parties to follow Mauritania’s constitution.

“What will happen Wednesday will be the former president will sign the agreement in official ceremony nominating the prime minister and then officially resign. Basically they will have to follow the constitution in that they will have to have an official vacancy of the presidency in Mauritania in order for the new prime minister and senate president basically to be president,” Sidatt said.

By Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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