Debates, Controversies and New Developments – Mauritania



The main focus of the political debate is on the electoral census based on civil records, which was initiated by Mauritanian authorities in 2011 to provide people with secure birth, marriage, and death certificate documents. Some groups such as the “Don’t Touch My Nationality” movement believe that it is a discriminatory move which aims at excluding some segments of the population—especially people of black African origin. This situation caused people to protest in a number of cities across the country. Some political parties and civil society organizations demand justice and equality in the conduct of the civil records-based census, as well as a reorganization of civil records services and, above all, a change of those who occupy leadership positions in these institutions.

The second question being debated is the composition of the CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission). Many believe that the CENI does not represent the whole political spectrum, thus some oppositions parties have demanded a change in the membership of the CENI. For them, it is the only guarantee to free and transparent elections. It is also believed that the CENI is not truly independent, and that a parallel structure has been created within the Ministry of Interior, the so-called General Office for the Support of the Electoral Process (DGPE), which “includes all administrative services and entities that play a role in the organization of elections.” That General Office is also “in charge of the conception and the custody of electoral lists.” The opposition claims that the government has always used the making of electoral lists as an opportunity to tamper with elections. Political actors wonder how the CENI can reassure competing political parties that the integrity of the process is maintained, given that it produces electoral lists for polling stations from an electoral database held the Ministry of Interior. In other words, how can the CENI evaluate the credibility of the electoral database when it is unable to validate the source?

Debates regarding the candidacy of independent candidates have reemerged recently because of their suppression. Indeed, some, including those within the majority, demonstrated their opposition to the suppression of independent candidacies in legislative and municipal elections. For others, the suppression of independent candidacies goes against the revitalization of politics and establishes a monopoly in favor of political parties.

There is also a debate which concerns the possibility of forming a national unity government with members of the majority and the opposition. Some argue that such a government is necessary to pacify the political situation and would produce reliably peaceful elections. Some parties continue to reject the results of the 2009 presidential elections and indicate that they will boycott the coming municipal and legislative elections as well.

Click here to view a press release of CENI announcing the results of the June 2014 presidential elections.

Click here to view a commentary on the 2014 presidential elections by Dr. Guéladio Silly Diabira (in French).

This post is also available in: Français (French)