Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who has led Mauritania since 2019, a center of stability in the Sahel in the face of jihadist spread, announced on Wednesday April 24 that he was a candidate for a second term in the June 29 presidential election. “I considered it appropriate to address you directly, dear compatriots, through this letter, to inform you of my decision to present myself to you, so that you renew your confidence in me for a new mandate,” he said. -he declared in a letter distributed to the media.

His candidacy was expected and he will be the big favorite in the ballot, where he will notably face his rival who came second in the 2019 presidential election, human rights activist Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, who also announced his candidacy on Wednesday.

Mauritania, a vast pivotal country between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa of around 4.5 million inhabitants, experienced a succession of coups from 1978 to 2008, before the 2019 election marks the first transition between two elected presidents. While jihadism spread elsewhere in the Sahel, and notably in neighboring Mali, the country has not experienced an attack since 2011.

Mr. Ghazouani, current President of the African Union (AU), promised in his letter to consolidate national unity, improve the living conditions of the poorest, guarantee security and stability and fight against corruption and misappropriation of public funds. “For me, the first challenge has always been and remains that of responding to the aspirations and hopes of our youth, of releasing their energy and preparing them to actively contribute to the construction and definition of the contours of Mauritania to which they aspires,” he also wrote.

Overwhelming majority in Parliament

His party largely won the legislative elections a year ago, winning 107 seats out of 176, far ahead of the Islamist Tewassoul party, which won 11 seats. A little less than a dozen contenders have so far announced their candidacy, including Mr. Ould Abeid, MP and fierce critic of the regime. “The crucial moment has come to escape the time loop of failure, despair, exponential debt and the recycling of false promises,” Mr. Ould Abeid, who obtained 18.59% of the votes, said on Wednesday. votes in the 2019 election.

The MP, who spoke in front of hundreds of his supporters in a packed conference room, painted a gloomy picture of the situation in his country and promised “to free Mauritania from the handicaps” which are hampering its development.

A descendant of former slaves, he denounced “ethno-tribal hegemony”, bad governance, impunity for racist crimes, the worsening dysfunctions of public power and the increase in the “perimeter of injustice” towards citizens of sub-Saharan origin.

Mr. Ould Abeid, whose political party is not authorized and has no legal existence, also underlined his concern about the smooth running of the electoral process. “We are moving forward, aware of the imperfection of the electoral register, the partiality and the deficiencies of the CENI” (Independent National Electoral Commission), he affirmed. According to a presidential decree, the electoral campaign will officially begin on Friday, June 14 at midnight and end on Thursday, June 27 at midnight.