Mauritanians vote in local and legislative elections in test for President Ghazouani
Mauritanians voted on Saturday in the first legislative and local elections since 2019 when President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani came to power in a litmus test for the veteran leader ahead of next year's presidential vote.
Ghazouani, who has overseen the West African country's relative stability in the violence-wracked Sahel, is widely expected to seek re-election next year, though he has not confirmed his plans.
His El Insaf party is favoured to win among the 25 parties vying for the backing of around 1.8 million voters, who are set to choose 176 members of parliament as well as 15 regional councils and 238 municipal councils.
There were snaking queues outside polling stations in the capital Nouakchott.
After casting his vote, Sidelmoustaphe Ould Ntilitt, 40, said he wanted change and hoped the "new parliament breathes news blood into governance".
Issa Habib Fall, 29, echoed him, adding: "We are poor despite our immense wealth".
Ghazouani's party is the only one to field candidates in all constituencies, which is likely to give him a boost in particular with rural voters in the vast, arid country.
El Insaf's leading challengers are the Islamist movement Tewassoul, the main opposition party in the outgoing parliament, and the Arab nationalist Sawab.
"I'm coming because of a sense of duty, obviously," Mohamed Ould Cheikh, a 30-year-old mining agent, told AFP.
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