Mauritanians head to polls in historic election


Voters in Mauritania have begun casting their ballot for a successor to to replace President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.

The election is the first to take place in the country after 59 years of independence.

President Abdel Aziz, 62, has led the country since he seized power in a 2008 coup. He is stepping aside after serving the maximum two five-year elected terms.

More than a million people are eligible to vote in the presidential election which is keenly contested by six candidates.

The frontrunner is Mohamed Ahmed Ould Ghazouani, the country’s defence minister and a close ally of the current president.

The five other candidates include former Prime Minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, and a well-known activist and anti-slavery campaigner, Biram Dah Abeid.

The country’s electoral commission has promised a free and fair election, despite claims by the opposition that it is biased in favour of the governing party.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the election will go to a second round next month.

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