Mauritanians vote in presidential election as incumbent Ghazouani expected to secure second term

Mauritanians went to the polls on Saturday to elect their next president, with the incumbent Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani widely expected to win after positioning Mauritania as an exception in a region swept by coups and violence.

Mauritanians began voting Saturday to decide whether to re-elect President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani as head of the desert country, an oasis of peace in Africa's volatile Sahel region.

Around 1.9 million registered voters are set to choose between seven candidates vying to lead the sprawling nation, which has largely withstood the tide of jihadism in the region and is set to become a gas producer.

An AFP journalist saw voters queueing up at two polling stations at a school in the heart of the capital Nouakchott before polling began at 0700 GMT. Men and women formed separate lines in this deeply conservative Islamic nation.

The electoral commission said 30 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots by 1400 GMT, five hours before the polls close.

"I am here to fulfil my civic duty to complete the democratic process that began some decades back," said Mohamed Salem M'Seika, a 50-year-old voter.

Kertouma Baba, 26, said he wanted "progress in education and opportunities for the youth".

Barka Kharachi, 26, said she wanted "a big change" to "sweep away all the corrupt men".

If there is a second-round vote, it will take place on July 14.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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