By Mohamed al-Bakay
Mauritania’s Constitutional Council on Tuesday announced the final results of last week’s constitutional referendum, asserting that a majority of voters had cast ballots in favor of proposed changes to the country’s national charter.
The changes, which include changing Mauritania’s national flag, clinched 85 percent of the vote, council head Al-Sagheer Ould Mubarak said at a press conference convened in capital Nouakchott.
Ould Mubarak also pointed out that several appeals filed by opposition groups against the results -- based on claims the vote was rigged -- had been rejected “due to a lack of convincing evidence”.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Al-Hassan Ould Mohamed, head of Mauritania’s Institution of Democratic Opposition (a loose coalition of opposition parties), slammed what he described as the “fraud and abuse” to which Mauritanian voters had been subjected.
Saying the poll results had been manipulated by the authorities, Ould Mohamed condemned what he described as “the complicity of the government, administration and senior officials [in rigging the vote] amid an atmosphere of irresponsibility and moral degradation”.
On August 7, Mauritania’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that the ‘Yes’ vote had overwhelmingly prevailed with at least 85 percent of ballots cast.
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has said the proposed constitutional changes were aimed at “promoting the country’s development and raising citizens’ standards of living”.
If enacted, the changes will abolish Mauritania’s High Court of Justice; establish a system of regional administrative councils; adopt a proportional system in national elections; change Mauritania’s national flag; and institute a unicameral -- rather than bicameral -- parliament.