Mauritania's President Ghazouani wins re-election, provisional results show

Mauritanians vote as President Ghazouani seeks re-election

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (Reuters) -Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has won the country's presidential election, according to provisional results from over 99.27% of polling stations released by the West African nation's electoral commission Sunday.

Ghazouani was re-elected in the Saturday election with over 56% of the vote, results from 4,468 polling stations out of 4,503 showed on Mauritania's independent electoral commission's website.

The 67-year-old former army chief of staff and defence minister, who was first elected in 2019, has pledged to boost investment to spur a commodities boom in the West African country of 5 million people, as it prepares to start producing natural gas by the end of the year.

Analysts had expected Ghazouani, who faced six challengers in the election, to win the race in the first round, thanks to Mauritania's ruling party dominance.

The provisional results showed that his main rival, anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, was second with 22.14%, followed by Hamadi Sidi El Mokhtar of the Islamist Tewassoul party with 12.8%.

Earlier on Sunday, Abeid rejected the provisional results, alleging irregularities.

"We'll not accept these results from the so-called independent electoral commission. We'll use our own electoral commission to proclaim the results," Abeid told a news conference in Nouakchott, the capital.

Before the election, El Mokhtar had also warned that his party would not accept the results if it suspected rigging.

In the 2019 election, some opposition candidates questioned the credibility of the vote, sparking small-scale protests.

Preliminary figures showed the turnout at Saturday's vote was just under 55.33%, the commission's data showed.

(Reporting by Kissima Diagana and Bate Felix; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Leslie Adler)