Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

The Mauritanian government has sidelined more than seventy political parties from participating in the forthcoming presidential elections in the country for ‘being too small’.

A decree issued by the country’s Interior Ministry on Wednesday ordered the dissolution of all parties which did not take part in municipal elections in 2013 and 2018 or which took part and failed to muster more than one per cent of the vote in the first round of voting.

The new order applies to 76 parties, leaving 28 in the field including the country’s main political groups.

Although a 2012 law provides financial support for electoral campaigns that is proportionate to a party’s public support, it also entitles the authorities to wind up groups which fail to meet the one-per cent threshold or take part in two consecutive municipal elections.

However, parties that are dissolved can reform and be allowed to take part in the presidential elections in the conservative Saharan state scheduled for June 30.

The ruling party, the Union for the Republic chose Defence Minister, Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed Ahmed as its candidate to succeed President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, whose second and final term in office is coming to an end.

Among major opposition figures is legislator and anti-slavery activist, Biram Ould Dah Abeid who has already indicated his interest to run.

However, negotiations among other opposition groups to agree on a consensus candidate have hit the rocks due to what they described as ideological divergences.