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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Friday 21 October 2005

MAURITANIA: New junta puts tentative election schedule to the people

NOUAKCHOTT, 21 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Placing the accent on transparency and grassroots political involvement, Mauritania’s new military rulers have issued a tentative electoral calendar to return the country to democracy, that is being put to the people.

After seizing office on 3 August, the military junta late Thursday made public the results of weeks of work behind closed doors on how to organise the transition to democracy, as well as measures to improve good governance and reform the justice system.

“We now want an exchange with all actors in the country because we believe this process will help to strengthen national cohesion,” said Habib Ould Hemet, the secretary general of the presidency of the ruling Military Council for Justice and Democracy (MCJD).

The reports have been posted on the government website at www.mauritania.mr and will be discussed with political parties, trade unions, civil society and lawyers from next week.

Among ideas to be debated in public is a proposal for the largely-desert nation to hold five elections in a year – starting with a constitutional referendum in June-July 2006, municipal elections in October 2006, elections for a new a parliament in April 2007, a vote for the senate in May 2007 and presidential elections in June 2007.

The junta’s bloodless August takeover ended two decades of rule under former president Maaouya Ould Taya and was followed by a sweeping political amnesty and pledges to hold presidential elections within two years.

Speaking earlier this month, Col Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, leader of the junta, reiterated that the Council “is committed to its political reform plan, which will lead to a democratically elected president.”

The public debate over the MCJD’s proposals is to begin next Tuesday at a ceremony of 500 politicians and members of civil society chaired by Vall, and last for five days until 30 October. Members of the junta and the military have the last word in case of a lack of consensus.

That means that a final election calendar is expected early November, along with the exact substance of the constitutional changes to be submitted to a vote by referendum.

Proposed changes to the constitution are expected to include a ceiling of two presidential mandates, either successively or alternately, and a judicial ban on heads of state tweaking the constitution to their own advantage.


[ENDS]

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005



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