Jun 25, 2014

Declaration By Candidate Biram Dah Abeid After Mauritania's Presidential Elections

On Saturday 21 June 2014, Mauritanians went to the polls to choose their new president for the next five years. As expected, outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz won these elections in a landslide victory with 81.89% of the vote, according to CENI – the Independent National Election Commission of Mauritania. In a statement published on 24 June, Biram Dah Abeid, who came out second with 8.67%, strongly denounces a fraudulous electoral process 

Below is a statement by candidate Biram Dah Abeid:

Nouakchott, 24 June 2014 - The candidate presidential Biram DAH ABEID requested this 21 June 2014 the suffrage of the Mauritanian. This application of fracture is the result of a long journey. Outside the traditional political system, it emanates masses which she carries the hopes of radical change in Mauritania.

Indeed, the candidate, President of the Initiative for the resurgence of the movement abolitionist in Mauritania (IRA - Mauritania) has been since 2008 at the head of a slave anti approach of a new kind. Refusing any taboo, He attacked evil at its root. The religious basis of Mauritanian slavery old for seven centuries took part : a pulsed speech the Holy Quran and Sunnah, based on the character just and liberating of islam was opposed to the so-called scholars and imams in the country which in their denial and fear of the debate, keep a complicit silence of the slavery-like currents and delight in their sermons to criticize loosely and to demonize the abolitionists.

It is in this context and in direct confrontation with media logic Slaveholders and racists proponents of the system of domination in force since the advent of the modern Mauritanian State that the President Biram DAH ABEID surrounded by colleagues and hundreds of militants proceeded to the symbolic books incineration falsely attributed to the Maliki rite and containing legal opinions which codify and legitimize practice of slavery ; they are the basis of religion in Mauritania but the training of imams, Magistrates, officers of the judicial police and agents of the territorial administration. This Act of subversion has strongly shaken the religious circles and circles of domination that have orchestrated and exploited crowds of demonstrators who were calling for the murder of abolitionists. Before being granted provisional freedom, Biram DAH ABEID was arrested with rare violence, prosecuted for inter alia offences of apostasy - punishable by the death penalty.

Then, in this context, validation of Biram DAH ABEID candidacy for the presidential elections of 21 June 2014 has been a repudiation of religious circles and the feudal circles sparking hope for the humble to see one of their compete for the highest office of the country. This hope is materialized by the crowds composed of tens of thousands of citizens came to meet the candidate in all regions of the country.

The election campaign has been the opportunity for the candidate to disseminate its project of society through various channels including the public media. The candidate could make a good coverage of the country. The election day, It has been represented in 2025 polling stations out of a total of 2900. All this, in such a short time and without material and financial resources ; businessmen, all from astonishment to the only Arab-Berber community, is are ganged against the candidature of Biram DAH ABEID denying him any support while they are assessed to ouguiya billion to support the candidate Mohamed Ould ABDEL AZIZ.

The results of the poll published by CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission) attributing a wide victory to the candidate Mohamed Ould ABDEL AZIZ have drowned in an ocean of desolation all hope that subsides the socio-political situation of the country.
Indeed, the fraud began upstream, well before the elections. Discriminatory enrolment in court since 2011 has prevented a large part of the black people (h’ratin, poulhars, Soninke, Wolof and Bambara) have national identity cards, so possibility to register on the electoral rolls and vote.

The means of the State and its symbols, have been used in a massive way in favour of candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Ministers, diplomats so that senior ranks of the army in the pay of Republic are involved openly in the campaign of the candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Mr Sidi Ould ZEINE, Minister of Justice was Regional Director of campaign to Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Mr. Cheikhna Ould NENÍ, Ambassador of Mauritania to Niger - Adviser in the National Executive Board and one of the most active figures was the Minister of health and the Action Sociale Mr Ahmed Ould JELVOUN, who came to a polling station after being closed for nine hours in the Moughataa of Tembedra (19 H). The responsible officer of the surveillance of the office which he was denied access was immediately replaced by his care on the Commissioner of police. Thus, Ould JELVOUN was able to operate quietly in the office, stuffing the ballot box in his own way. These few cases are here cited examples to illustrate a tendency unfortunately widespread constituting a serious violation of the rules on elections in Mauritania.

Persons who were registered on the electoral rolls in Nouakchott and within the country have been simply éconduites- the morning of 21 June – polling stations. Their names were no longer on the lists of electors. These persons hold their registration receipts that prove they were properly registered on the lists. Such cases revealed by the hundreds everywhere in the country especially in Boghé, Kaédi, Nouadhibou and Nouakchott.

It is to report massive jams of ballot boxes in 863 polling stations located primarily in the eastern part and the northern part of the country, in the what one candidate Mohamed Ould ABDEL AZIZ was represented. This is also from the results that have been announced in several polling stations where it has been counted 100 % of voters, 100 % of votes validly cast and finally, 100% votes in favour of the candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Enrolment and then mass registration of foreigners on the lists of electors has created communities of phantom voters : the electoral district of Birmoghrein is increased from 1 500 voters (in 2007) more from 9 000 This year thanks to the mass of Saharans recording ; at Dhar the number of voters has increased by ten (10) in favour of the inclusion of many Tuareg and Arab peoples from the North of Mali.

Many forms of fraud which the physical evidence made exist. The facts are of much serious no malpractice found would have been possible without the complicity and even the direct conduct of the CENI officials.

In light of all the foregoing, radical dynamics is in his duty but also in its right to reject the results announced by the CENI which hardly represent the choice of the Mauritanian voters and these Mauritanian who does is recognize in the authorities which will be derived from this electoral consultation.

The radical current, his meteoric rise is today a political dynamic essential and decisive for the future of Mauritania at the national but also international level.

Paying tribute to all those who from near or far supported the project of radical change, We assure all those who have worn their choice to our candidate that their vote will be not in vain, We will defend the acquis, determined in the process of the peaceful struggle for the total deconstruction of the system of domination in Mauritania.

Launching an appeal to our activists and supporters to stay engaged and vigilant, We interpelons proponents of the power which is arcboutent still in a position of denial of the abolitionist movement to courageously tackle the disavowal making them by the people's verdict and stop any behaviour tending to drown any hope of advent of a Mauritania released stigma.




Below is a statement published by UNPO on 20 June 2014, on the eve of the elections:                                                              

Tomorrow, outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz will face Biram Dah Abeid and three other candidates: Ibrahim Moctar Sarr, chairman of the Alliance for Justice and Democracy/Movement for Renovation, Boydiel Ould Houmied, leader of the El Wiam party, and Lalla Mariem Mint Moulaye Idriss, an independent candidate who is the second woman in the history of Mauritania to run for Presidential elections.

The son of a slave himself, Biram Dah Abeid established IRA-Mauritania in 2007 to advocate against the practice of slavery in his country, a descent-based phenomenon that is affecting an estimated 20-30% of the population, mainly Haratins or “Black Moors”. Deeply rooted prejudices affect the Haratin as an ethnic slave caste, with widespread discrimination and political underrepresentation - or rather, complete invisibility prior to IRA’s activities – characterizing their lives.

Biram Dah Abeid’s campaign is largely focused on eradicating those prejudices and building a fair and equal society in Mauritania. His activism led to the first (and only) conviction ever of slaveholders in Mauritania, even though slavery was abolished in 1905 in the country and several additional laws and conventions followed, until the official criminalization of slavery in 2007. His candidacy is thus highly symbolic, considering the non-violent activist and symbol of the abolitionist movement has been going through a lot of hardship over the past few years. Not only was he imprisoned and beaten on several occasions, the death sentence he was charged with for publicly burning pro-slavery excerpts of the “Abrégé de Khlil” (a non-sacred interpretation of Islam), is still not suspended.

On 10 December 2013, Biram Dah Abeid was awarded the United Nations Peace Prize, which only contributed to the visibility of his actions and granted him a certain political profile on the international level as well.

The general pre-election atmosphere has been quite tense, with the opposition calling this race a losing battle even before a single vote was cast. Many members of civil society and political organizations deplore the lack of transparency of the elections. Presidential candidate Lalla Mariam Mint Moulaye Idriss admitted that total transparency could not be achieved in these elections, since Mauritania’s intricate social, ethnic and political reality would stand high above any electoral program.

Therefore, there has been a strong call for a boycott of the elections among the opposition, especially by the National Forum for Democracy and Development (FNDU). According to the advocates of the boycott, voting in these elections would mean knowingly participating in the masquerade. In response to this call for boycott, Mauritania’s president accused the opposition of confiscated many citizen’s identity documents to prevent them from voting on Saturday.

However, other Mauritanians are eager to vote, as this is perceived as the only way to bring change in their country. Change is the core element of Biram Dah Abeid’s campaign, who wants to eradicate discrimination and systematic mistreatment of Black Moors in his country.

In her response to a written question by Member of the European Parliament Dr. Charles Tannock regarding Election Monitoring, High Representative Catherine Ashton stated the following:

“The EU is sending three electoral experts on mission from 24 May to 20 July to continue the work started at the time of the parliamentary and local elections in November/December 2013. Technical assistance will also be provided to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). The EU will not be sending an Election Observation Mission (EOM), however, notably because the request was made very late by the Mauritanian authorities”.

The establishment of the relevant electoral bodies at extremely short notice, and hence the lack of international observers, is highly deplorable.

UNPO encourages all Mauritanians to urge their government to hold free, fair and transparent elections. UNPO furthermore deplores the lack of international observers and the ad hoc and last-minute character of the electoral proceedings. UNPO furthermore urges the Mauritanian authorities to abide by their own constitution.