Elections in Mauritania – the need for democracy

21 November 2013

The situation in Mauritania, just days before the municipal and legislative elections that are due to take place on Saturday 23 November 2013, continues to be a source of great concern for the Socialist International. The country is suffering from a profound institutional crisis as a result of a great democratic deficit. Mauritania has been deprived of a legal parliament for two years since elections that were initially due in November 2011 were twice postponed, and the November 2013 elections have been convened without due respect for the established procedures.

The Coordination of the Democratic Opposition (COD), which includes the Assembly of Democratic Forces (RFD), an SI member party, has decided to boycott the elections due to the lack of democratic and fair conditions that permits all parties and electors to take part in elections that are transparent, fair and trustworthy.

The COD demands consensual elections, in which all votes are counted, it rejects the abuse of public resources by the government, it calls for respect for transparency throughout the electoral process, as well as impartial democratic institutions. This is particularly important, as the foreign company that provided the ballot papers for the presidential elections in 2009 and has been awarded the same for these legislative elections, is currently facing charges of corruption and the payment of bribes to obtain the contract.

The country is in need of credible and strong institutions in order to be able to confront the major challenges that lie ahead both nationally and within the region, such as terrorism, illegal immigration, the fight against drug trafficking, and initiatives for development and good governance.

The Socialist International reaffirms its full solidarity with the RFD, as well as with all democrats in Mauritania, who seek respect for their rights and for the democratic process. The existing legal and institutional vacuum in the country cannot continue, as the SI has stated in previous declarations. The Socialist International extends its support to the RFD and the COD in their proposal of a reasonable and realistic framework for organising, in a consensual manner, credible and transparent elections that will constitute an important step on the way to achieving a genuine democracy in that country. At a time when the struggle for rights and freedoms is at a decisive stage in the Arab world, nothing less than democracy will do for Mauritania.