Mauritania’s military ruler, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, will find his path to victory in June presidential elections clear after a Wednesday deadline passed without a serious opposition figure registering. But boycotted elections are seen as unlikely to give Abdel Aziz legitimacy abroad or within the northwest African country, which he has ruled despite hails of criticism since last August, when he ousted the nation’s first elected leader.

mauritaniaMauritania, a nation of just over three million people straddling black and Arab Africa, is an ally of the West in the campaign against al Qaeda across the Sahara, has significant iron ore reserves and became a small-scale oil producer in 2006. “It’s an election where the result is known in advance. There is no candidate who has the stature to oppose the general,” said a Mauritanian political analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity.

None of Abdel Aziz’s three main opponents have the experience or power base to take on the general, whose style has become more populist and polished since his early appearances in uniform after deposing Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, leader of the Alliance for Justice and Democracy-Movement for Renewal party, which appeals to Mauritania’s black population, has said he will stand. Sarr took 8 percent of the vote in the 2007 polls, finishing fifth.

Also on the ballot on June 6 will be Kan Hamidou Baba, vice-president of the national assembly, who was thrown out of the National Front for the Defence of Democracy (FNDD), an anti-junta coalition, for his conciliatory stance towards the junta. Sghair Ould M’Bareck, a former prime minister, will also stand.



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