1997 Mauritanian presidential election

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1997 Mauritanian presidential election

← 1992 12 December 1997 2003 →
  Mauritania gov ould taya 210 eng 30apr05.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya Chbih Ould Cheikh Malainine
Party DSRP Independent
Popular vote 801,190 61,869
Percentage 90.9% 7.0%

President before election

Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya

Elected President

Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya

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Presidential elections were held in Mauritania on 12 December 1997. Incumbent President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya won the election with 91% of the vote. Voter turnout was 74.7%.[1]


President Taya came to power in a coup d'état in 1984 and ruled Mauritania as one-party state for the next 8 years.[2] Under the 1991 constitution multi-party democracy was introduced with Taya being elected with 62% of the vote in the 1992 presidential election.[2]

However the opposition alleged that the 1992 election had been fraudulent[2] and the main opposition groups in Mauritania boycotted the 1997 election as they said it would not be a fair contest with, for instance, the electoral commission not being independent.[3]


The campaign began on 27 November with President Taya the clear favourite. Taya focused on the performance of the economy and reinforcing democracy during his campaign. Taya was backed by the Mouvance Presidentielle, which included the Rally for Democracy and Unity (RDU) and a faction of the Union of Democratic Forces.[4]

Four candidates challenged Taya including, Kane Amadou Moctar, the first black African to run for president[5] in a country that had been dominated politically by Moors since independence.[2] Moctar was a former hospital administrator who pledged to oppose slavery and establish a new policy of fisheries.[4] Chbih Ould Cheikh Malainine was a former cabinet minister who had quit the RDU to form his own party and campaigned to eliminate slavery.[4]

Moulaye El Hacen Ould Jeid was the secretary general of the Mauritanian Party for Renewal and Concord and in his campaign called for press censorship to be ended. Lastly Mohammed Mahmoud Ould Mah was the secretary general of the Popular Social and Democratic Union. He had contested the 1992 election and pledged to renegotiate agreements with the European Union and International Monetary Fund if he was elected.[4]


President Taya won the election with official figures showing a turnout of around 74%, however the opposition claimed that their boycott had been successful and did not accept the official results.[6] Voter turnout in the capital Nouakchott and the second city Nouadhibou was low but turnout was reported by the government to be higher elsewhere in the country.[2] Taya won just over 90% of the vote, with the former minister Chbih Ould Cheikh Malainine coming second with 7%.[7]

Candidate Party Votes %
Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal 801,190 90.94
Chbih Ould Cheikh Malainine Independent 61,869 7.02
Moulaye El Hacen Ould Jeid Mauritanian Party for Renewal and Concord 8,165 0.93
Mohammed Mahmoud Ould Mah Popular Social and Democratic Union 6,443 0.73
Kane Amadou Moctar Party for Liberty, Equality and Justice 3,342 0.38
Invalid/blank votes 19,191
Total 900,200 100
Registered voters/turnout 1,203,357 74.81
Source: Nohlen et al.


  1. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p597 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  2. ^ a b c d e "Mauritanian opposition cries foul". Middle East Times. 1997-12-19. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  3. ^ "Mauritanian president wins poll". BBC News Online. 1997-12-13. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  4. ^ a b c d "Mauritania: IRIN-WA Election Brief, 12/11/97". Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa. 1997-12-11. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  5. ^ "Mauritania votes". The Independent. 1997-12-13. p. 10.
  6. ^ "Mauritania president stays on". The Independent. 1997-12-15. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Mauritania presidency won in landslide". Toledo Blade. 1997-12-14. Retrieved 2009-07-26.[dead link]