Mauritanians to decide on July 15 whether President could extend reign

Mauritanians will decide on July 15 whether autocratic leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz could run again for the elections in 2019, the year his current term ends.

The date of the referendum on constitutional reforms proposed by the President’s ruling party was set by the cabinet last week.

The fate of the President in 2019, year of the next presidential elections, is the bone of contention between the opposition and the ruling regime. The opposition believes the constitutional reforms constitute a red carpet for the regime to prepare an extension of the Mauritanian leader’s stay in power.

Ould Abdel Aziz first came to power through a military coup in 2008. After winning the presidential election in 2009, Ould Abdel Aziz won a second term in June 2014.

In March, the country’s senate, although dominated by pro-regime members, rejected attempts by the ruling party to adopt the reforms.

The rejection by his own side angered the President who pushed for the referendum.

“Due to this rejection, we have arrived at an impasse. But there is one way out: we will hold a referendum,” President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz had then told the press.

”We cannot allow 33 senators who voted against these amendments to hold the whole country hostage,” he had added.

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