Mauritania | Steps Toward Democracy
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Steps Toward Democracy
Coup attempts in June 2003 and Aug. 2004 were thwarted. Taya's crackdown on Islamists and his support for Israel and the U.S. were believed to have sparked the attempts to overthrow him. In Aug. 2005, however, President Taya was deposed by military officers while out of the country. In June 2006, voters approved to limit the presidency to two five-year terms.
Mauritania started its march toward democracy in November 2006, when local and regional elections were held throughout the country. Presidential elections followed in March 2007. None of the 19 candidates won more than 50% of the vote in the first round, and the two top candidates, Sidi Ould Sheik Abdellahi, a former government minister, and Ahmed Ould Daddah, an opposition leader, faced off in the country's first-ever second round of voting. Abdellahi prevailed in the runoff to become the country's first democratically elected president.
In July 2008, the country's top four military leaders deposed Prime Minister Boubacar and President Abdellahi in a bloodless coup. Some of the same military leaders were involved in the 2005 coup that brought Abdellahi to power. In recent months, the country's legislature has criticized Abdellahi's handling of rising food prices and accused the government of corruption.
In July 2009, a year after taking control of Mauritania in a military coup, Muhammad Ould Abdel Aziz won the presidential election, with 52% of the vote. He prevailed over parliament speaker Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, who garnered only 16%. The election was deemed fair by outside observers, including representatives from the African Union. The election helped to put the country back on a course toward democracy.
When President Abdel Aziz took office on August 5, 2009, Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf resigned. Laghdaf had been retained two months earlier to serve as prime minster as part of a deal with the opposition. Despite his resignation, Laghdaf was reappointed prime minister by President Abdel Aziz in mid-August 2009. On Feb. 2, 2014, Prime Minister Laghdaf turned in a resignation for his government. The following day he was asked to form a new one.
In the first round of presidential elections on June 21, 2014, incumbent Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz won 81.9% of the vote, Biram Dah Ebeid 8.7%, Boydiel Ould Houmeid 4.5%, and Ibrahima Moctar Sarr 4.4%. Turnout was 56.5%.