Three people die after arrests at election protests in Mauritania

Estimated read time 2 min read

Three protesters have died in detention in Mauritania, the interior ministry has said, after mass arrests during protests in the opposition stronghold of Kaédi after the north-west African country’s presidential election outcome.

Officials said protests had turned violent in the southern town near the border with Senegal late on Monday, prompting security forces to confront demonstrators.

“Unfortunately, under these circumstances, three demonstrators died. Two of them died in the detention facility in the presence of their fellow detainees, while the third died later in the hospital,” the ministry said.

It did not give further details on their cause of death or the number of people detained but said an investigation would be carried out.

The unrest followed an announcement on Sunday that President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani had won a second term in Saturday’s election, according to provisional results. He had 56.12% of the vote, while his main rival, the anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, got 22.10%. The turnout was an estimated 55%.

Ghazouani, 67, will now begin a second five-year term in charge of a country seen as relatively stable in the otherwise volatile Sahel region. He also holds the one-year rotational chairmanship of the African Union, which sent a team of observers to the polls. The team is yet to comment on the outcome.

Abeid rejected the results over alleged irregularities and called for “peaceful demonstrations and peaceful gatherings” after the announcement by the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission.

“We will only recognise our own results, and therefore we will take to the streets” to refuse the electoral commission count, he said.

There were demonstrations afterward in Kaédi, as well as the nearby towns of Nouadhibou, Rosso Zoueirat, and Boghé, all opposition strongholds.

On Tuesday, the authorities restricted access to mobile internet “amid protests rejecting the results of this weekend’s presidential elections”, the internet monitor Netblocks said.

Opposition concerns about the credibility of the electoral process also prompted small-scale protests after the 2019 presidential vote, in which Abeid also came second.


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