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Vol 44 No 20

Published 10th October 2003


Mauritania

Warriors and marabouts

Nouakchott cracks down on Islamists and Arab nationalists ahead of November's elections

President Maaouiya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya has cracked down on his critics, particularly targeting Arab nationalists and Islamists as he seeks to improve ties with his new friends in Israel and the United States. But the fragmentation of the opposition suggests he can survive most threats of storms ahead. Nine candidates have so far announced plans to contest a presidential election and the first round is set for 7 November. It is essentially a four-way race between Taya, long-time opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah, Haratine leader Messaoud Ould Boulkheir and Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidallah. Making an unexpected return to the political forefront, Ould Haidallah is the President whom Taya ousted in his 1984 coup d'état. Most opposition parties boycotted the last presidential poll in December 1997; this time, with so many candidates, a second-round run-off looks almost inevitable.

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