Sidi Ould Sheikh Abdellahi has been announced as the new president of Mauritania by Interior Ministry sources – as vote counting in the country reaches its conclusion. Earlier sources had placed Abdellahi in a slender lead from opposition candidate, and fellow Moorish elite member, Ahmed Ould Daddah.
These are the first democratic elections since Mauritania gained independence from France in 1960, after a military coup took power of the Saharan Islamic state two years ago. The 1.1 million eligible voters chose between candidates who both pledged to foster democracy and economic development in a country still suffering from widespread poverty and persistent slavery issues. Out-going military rulers vowed not to interfere with the poll, but gave support to Abdellahi. A formal result is expected later today.