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Mauritania - 2013 Election - Parliament

The country returned to constitutional rule in 2009 following the Dakar Accord, which resulted in the agreement of then president Abdallahi to resign and the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

The constitution provides for freedom of assembly. The law requires that NGO organizers apply to the local prefect (hakim) for permission to hold large meetings or assemblies. Authorities generally granted permission but on some occasions denied it in circumstances that suggested the application of political criteria. Registered political parties are not required to seek permission to hold meetings or demonstrations.

Some journalists practiced self-censorship when covering topics deemed sensitive, including the military, corruption, and the application of sharia, and there were reports that police detained and questioned journalists during the year in connection with their coverage of topics such as slavery. Some opposition leaders asserted that they had no effective access to official media.

The 2013 elections, which had been due by 2011, were held under the supervision of the national election commission. The commission comprised an equal number of members from the presidential camp and moderate opposition parties that were part of the Coalition for a Peaceful Alternance (CAP), which had signed an agreement with the Government in August 2011.

In March 2013 the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), created in 2009 but not fully operational until 2012, announced it would organize municipal and legislative elections in October. After extended consultations with majority parties and the moderate opposition coalition, the CENI recommended a delay of six weeks to the electoral college to ensure maximum participation. Despite these efforts, the coalition of radical opposition parties (COD) boycotted the elections, although Tawassoul the Islamist party and one of the largest members of the COD ignored the boycott and participated in the elections.

The UPR ran on the government's record, arguing that nearly 100 per cent of President Aziz's first-term electoral program had been implemented. Tawassoul leader Mohamed Jamil Ould Mansour Tewassoul argued that participation in the elections was a form of "struggle against the dictatorship" of President Aziz.

In elections held from 23 November 2013 through 21 December 2013 The Union for the Republic (UPR, the party of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz) and its allies won 110 seats in the enlarged 147-member National Assembly (up from 95). 20 seats are reserved for women. Opposition forces took a total of 37 seats. The National Rally for Reform and Development (Tawassoul), an Islamist party associated with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, became the second largest force, taking 16 seats. El-Wiam, a new party close to former President Maaouiya Ould Taya (ousted by a coup in 2005), took 10 seats. The People's Progressive Alliance (APP) led by outgoing Speaker of the National Assembly Messaoud Ould Boulkheir took nine seats.

As the largest party of the opposition in the new National Assembly, Tawassoul appoints the leader of the opposition in the new government. Ten out of 11 parties in a rival opposition body - the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) - boycotted the elections, criticizing a lack of transparency in the electoral process.

The participation rate of eligible voters was over 75 percent in the first round and over 72 percent in the second round, according to the CENI. Candidates appealed the outcome in some constituencies, which could result in another round of voting. Presidential elections were scheduled to occur in June or July 2014.

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