Nouakchott (AFP) – Mauritania's government on Monday held its first talks with the opposition after years of dispute in a bid to organise November elections, its participants told AFP.
The west African nation had to postpone the elections originally planned for October after a coalition of opposition parties said it would "boycott this electoral masquerade" in a bid to cause the vote to fail.
The talks involved five camps, one led by the government's Communications Minister Mohamed Yahya Ould Horma who has vowed that advanced technology would be deployed to ensure the elections were "transparent and credible."
The opposition is organised around the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD), a 10-party coalition that threatened to boycott the local and legislative elections.
"The dialogue has started, it begins with a preparatory meeting behind closed doors to determine the content and form of the consultations," said Jemil Ould Mansour, the head of the Islamist party Tewassoul, also a key member of COD.
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 coup and was elected a year later, but the opposition has never accepted his rule as legitimate and demanded he make way for a neutral leader to administer the vote.
The COD had since abandoned its call for the president to step down, its leaders said.
However, one source close to COD negotiators said the opposition would continue to ask for the formation of a new independent government but they would not make this a precondition for elections, knowing the government rejects the demand.