Mauritanian Security Forces Linked to Post-Election Fatalities
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Mauritanian Security Forces Linked to Post-Election Fatalities

Mauritanian Security Forces Linked to Post-Election Fatalities

Photo: Post-election clashes in Mauritania. Source: Arise News – Photo: 2024

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 8 July 2024 (IDN) — Mauritanian security forces were linked to post-election violence and at least three deaths after the victory of incumbent Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani this past weekend.

According to the Interior Ministry, rioting, looting and vandalism broke out in southern Mauritania after the results were announced. Two of the rioters died in custody and a third died later in hospital, they said.

Security forces were concentrated in the southern city of Kaedi—the country’s largest province and an opposition stronghold with an overwhelming Black majority.

Officials blamed “limited options” for detaining the rioters due to the late hour and the large number of demonstrators.

The African Union sent a team of 27 short-term observers, while the European Union sent three.

A note from the US State Dept. commended “the commitment and determination displayed by Mauritians in exercising their right to vote – continuing Mauritania’s recent history of democratic elections. We regret the loss of life in post-election protests and look to the Mauritanian government to conduct a full investigation into the deaths and hold those deemed responsible to account.”

However, in 2023, the State Dept. in its executive summary, cited significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including unjustified arrests of journalists and enforcement of a criminal blasphemy law to limit expression.

Some 1.9 million registered voters cast a ballot out of a population of 4.6 million. The electoral commission said around 40% of eligible voters had cast their ballots.

Biram Dah Abeid, renowned anti-slavery activist and runner-up in the last two presidential elections, denounced “massive fraud” at the polling stations and pledged to organize peaceful street demonstrations. A third candidate, Hamadi Ould Sid’ El Moctar, representing the Islamist Tewassoul party, also called for an end to mismanagement and corruption.

They also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of doing nothing to ensure the election runs smoothly.

In 2020, Abeid was discussed as a potential candidate for the Sakharov Prize but was reportedly blocked from nomination by politicians suspected of corruption. Past winners include the people of Ukraine and Nelson Mandela.

The aftermath of the 2019 election, which brought Ghazouani to power, was marked by clashes and the arrest of opponents as well as nationals of neighboring countries accused of taking part in demonstrations. It was also accompanied by a 10-day internet blackout.

Ghazouani’s re-election with 56% of the vote was confirmed by the National Electoral Commission. The results have yet to be confirmed by the Constitutional Council.

The victory gives the 67-year-old former army chief a second term at the helm of the vast country.

The capital, Nouakchott, appeared calm on Tuesday (2 July), with businesses open as usual, but the capital’s mobile internet access has been cut since Monday night. (IDN-InDepthNews)

Photo: Post-election clashes in Mauritania. Source: Arise News