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Sunday, 21 October, 2001, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Mauritania ruling party wins easily
Map of Mauritania
By BBC North Africa correspondent David Bamford in Rabat

Provisional results from Friday's parliamentary elections in Mauritania show that the ruling party, the Democratic and Social Republican Party or PRDS, has won a majority in the national assembly.

However, the opposition has also made gains in both the parliamentary and municipal elections and, for the first time, is likely to be strongly represented on many local councils.

President Maaouya Ould Taya
President Ould Taya had promised to improve multi-party democracy
Opposition spokesmen have said the parties were satisfied with the conduct of the election, but will make a statement once all the results are in.

The election marks a significant stage in moves by President Maaouiya Ould Taya to improve multi-party democracy.

With Friday's results still incomplete and another round of voting in some areas next weekend, it will be a while yet before Mauritanians know the full make-up of their 81-seat national assembly.

But even now, it is clear that the ruling PRDS, the party that supports President Ould Taya, will have a majority in the assembly.

Opposition gains

The opposition, which only had one seat in the outgoing legislature due to a boycott of the last election, have already won in the region of 10 seats and are likely to take several more yet.

Those seats are split between several parties.

But there are two main beneficiaries - the Rally of Democratic Forces and Action for Change.

More representative

The opposition is hopeful for substantial gains in the municipal elections which also took place on Friday.

Technically, Mauritania has had a multi-party system for 10 years. But it has never functioned properly because the voting system kept all but the biggest party from winning seats.

That has now changed, and President Ould Taya does seem to be making good his promise to give the opposition parties a role in decision making.

He needs a consensus to implement an economic austerity programme that is being coupled with measures to deal with the worst poverty.

See also:

19 Oct 01 | Africa
Mauritania goes to the polls
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Mauritania
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