"Work together to deepen the rule of law" in Mauritania urges UN chief

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Drought has affected residents of the Mbera refugee camp, Mauritania, in the Sahel region of Africa. Photo: WFP/Justin Smith.

Mauritanians need to work together in order to deepen the rule of law, and national unity, said the UN Secretary-General on Tuesday.

António Guterres' call came following a national referendum at the weekend in the North-West African country, which was boycotted by opposition parties.

More details from Liz Scaffidi.

The controversial vote took place on Saturday, amidst protests organized by opposition politicians in the capital, Nouakchott.

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) voiced concerns last week that dissenting voices were being supressed, and excessive force was being used against protesters.

According to news reports, government officials reported a turnout of just under 54 per cent, with 85 per cent of voters in favour of abolishing the upper house of the legislature, the senate.

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said the move would encourage more local democracy, and he is barred by the constitution from running for a third term.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"The Secretary-General encourages all stakeholders to ensure that disagreements are addressed peacefully, within the confines of the law and respect for the rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The Secretary-General calls on all Mauritanians to work together to deepen the rule of law and promote social cohesion and national unity."

News reports said that voters also supported changes to the national flag of Mauritania, which will now feature red bands to honour the blood spilled by those involved in fighting French colonial rule.

Liz Scaffidi, United Nations.

Duration: 1’23″

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