Mauritania postpones vote after opposition threat

Mauritania announced a six-week postponement of its October 12 elections on Thursday after a coalition of opposition parties said it would boycott in a bid to cause the vote to fail.

The west African nation's election commission said the first round of the parliamentary and local elections would now take place on November 23 while a second round would go ahead if required on December 7.

The move follows an announcement by the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) group of ten opposition parties on August 12 that they would "boycott this electoral masquerade".

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 coup and was elected a year later, but the COD has never accepted his rule as legitimate and is demanding he make way for a neutral leader to administer the vote.

A government official said on condition of anonymity that the delay was to allow the opposition time to rethink its position and take part in the election.

In early August, Communications Minister Mohamed Yahya Ould Horma said advanced technology would be deployed to ensure the elections were "transparent and credible", while Abdel Aziz said last week a postponement would "allow all political parties to take part".

Following independence from France and the ensuing one-party government of Moktar Ould Daddah, deposed in 1978, Mauritania had a series of military rulers until its first multi-party election in 1992.