Several Mauritanian opposition parties said Monday that they had formed a coalition to boycott a referendum set for August 5 which they say is a smokescreen to keep the ruling party in power.
The “No” coalition is drawn from a broad political spectrum including Islamists and anti-slavery activists in the conservative west African nation, all of whom oppose measures including abolishing the senate and changing the national flag.
Jemil Ould Mansour, head of the Islamic Tewassoul party, called the referendum “unconstitutional” given that the senate has already refused to consent to changes to the national charter.
The coalition called on Mauritanians to “actively join forces with the boycott campaign of this masquerade which aims at perpetuating a regime of waste, injustice and exclusion.”
Senators rejected the abolition of their own chamber in March, apparently to the government’s surprise as a majority are from the ruling party, prompting President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to call the referendum.
The opposition fears that despite Aziz’s claims to the contrary he is laying the groundwork for a third term in power, with his own prime minister saying he supported the idea at the weekend.
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