Politics, Africa

Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Mauritania's new president

Ould Ghazouani pledged to create calm political climate, build strong institutions, and strengthen fight against corruption

Mohamed al-Bakay   | 24.06.2019
Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Mauritania's new president

NOUAKCHOTT

Former Defense Minister Mohamed Ould Ghazouani was declared winner of Mauritania's presidential election.

Ould Ghazouani, 63, an ally of incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, won 52.01% of the votes cast in Saturday's polls, according to the country's electoral commission.

Six candidates vied in the polls, including human rights activist Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, who trailed second with only 18.5% of the votes.

Born in the central town of Boumdeid, Ghazouani hails from a Sufi family.

In the late 1970s, he volunteered in the military and held several positions, including the commander of the Armored Corps and head of the Homeland Security Department.

In August 2005, Ould Ghazouani participated in a military coup that toppled President Maaouya Ould Taya and became a member of the military council that oversaw a transitional period.

In August 2008, he participated with current President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in a second military coup that overthrew Mauritania's first democratically elected civilian president, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallah.

Following the coup, Ould Abdel Aziz resigned from the military establishment and ran for president in 2009 and was re-elected in 2014.

With his longtime ally Ould Abdel Aziz, Ould Ghazouani was promoted in 2012 as Lieutenant General and then, in a year, became the military chief of staff.

In October 2018, he became defense minister before leaving the government four months later to devote himself to his presidential campaign.

In January, Ould Abdel Aziz announced he would not stand for reelection, dismissing calls from his supporters for constitutional amendments that could have allowed him to run for a third term in office.

Ould Ghazouani was widely expected to sweep Mauritania's presidential race due to Ould Abdel Aziz's explicit support to him.

With Ould Ghazouani's victory, Ould Abdel Aziz -- who spent two five-year terms -- is likely to play a leading role in the Mauritanian leadership, as he announced a few days ago that he will pursue development projects "from inside and outside the presidency."

During his campaign, Ould Ghazouani proposed a 47-page presidential program in which he pledged to create a calm political climate, build strong institutions, and strengthen the fight against corruption.

He also pledged to carry out economic reforms and make capital Nouakchott a city that meets good standards of security, education, health, hygiene, restaurants, transport, trade, housing, urban control and employment.

He also vowed to empower women and those with disabilities.

Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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