With preparations are underway for the country’s first presidential elections since last year’s coup, Mauritania’s Islamists said they will rally behind any presidential hopeful giving political recognition to the Islamist trend.
Ten candidates have said they will stand in the Mauritanian presidential elections on March 11.
Islamists won five seats in parliament and 10 local government seats in the November parliamentary poll. The Islamist candidates ran under the umbrella of the Coalition of Forces for Change, which groups 10 Mauritanian parties set up last year to oppose the former ruling party.
Mauritania, a largely desert and poverty-stricken land twice the size of France, has been beset by a cycle of coup attempts since independence from France in 1960. Power has never changed hands through the ballot box. The majority of Mauritanians voted last November, 2005, in favor of constitution changes to restore democracy to the west African Islamic republic. The results of the November parliamentary elections came as a surprise to many parties, including the junta.
Islamists in Mauritania have been authorized to enter the November election for the first time since independence from France in 1960. However, the authorities have nevertheless prohibited them from forming their own political party, reasoning that they cannot be the only “agents for Islam”, as outlined in the constitution.