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Mauritania Votes

Mauritania Votes
Mauritania Votes

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Mauritania's presidential election on July 18 marked a return to constitutional order following 10 months of military rule in the West African nation. Although Mohamad Ould Abdel Aziz's path to becoming a successful presidential candidate was an errant one, his nation's Constitutional Court and other international observers have determined that the voting reflected the general will of the Mauritanian people.

The United States notes the decision of Mauritania's Constitutional Council, which declared the former general has been elected as president, and looks forward to working with his government on the multiple challenges facing the his country.

Mr. Aziz and other military leaders deposed democratically elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdalahi last August, drawing the condemnation of Mauritania's neighbors and others in the international community.

The ruling military council had arbitrarily scheduled elections for June 6; but it required lengthy negotiations among various political factions under the leadership of Senegal which led to the signing of an accord known as the Dakar Agreement and the consensus that set July 18 as Election Day. Mr. Aziz changed the constitution to allow military reservists to run for political office before resigning his commission to declare his candidacy.

When the election was finally held, official returns showed that Mr. Aziz received more than 52 percent of the vote, winning a majority. Despite a certain number of irregularities, international observers found no serious polling problems or proof of fraud. Thus, the Dakar Accord succeeded in affording the Mauritanian people the chance to freely choose their own leader.

Recognizing this achievement, Mr. Aziz and Mauritania's political leaders should continue working together in a constructive and respectful manner in the interests of their fellow citizens.