NARCO ANALYSIS: Game On El Ghazouani
By Geoff D. Porter
NARCO doesn’t usually take victory laps, not because its analysis isn’t usually right, but because it’s unbecoming.
However, a tweet on 29 January by Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham, the former UPR Secretary General, who is now Minister of Communication and Relations with the Parliament, announcing that current Minister of Defense Mohamed Ould Cheikh el Ghazouani will be the UPR’s presidential candidate is precisely what NARCO anticipated 12 days ago. (See: NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Mauritania’s Peaceful Presidential Transition)
Maham’s tweet (which is a first for Mauritanian politics but seems to be increasingly the norm among hip, with-it politicians) said that the UPR had chosen el Ghazouani because he was the best choice for continuing Mauritania’s “security, democracy, and development project” that President Ould Abdelaziz started. (Note “security” comes first, “democracy” second.)
Elections will be in June 2019 (inchallah.) There will certainly be some opposition activity (which in sporadic instances may provoke a repressive response from the state, including disruption of Islamist activities and harassment of Mauritania’s human rights organizations), but ultimately, the UPR machine has a lock on electoral politics in Mauritania and “President El Ghazouani” is nearly a sure thing. With last week’s announcement and today’s tweet, the elite will begin to rally round El Ghazouani. There was already a steady stream of late model cars outside El Ghazouani’s Nouakchott villa last week and visitors were stacked up in the waiting area outside his Ministry of Defense office. This will likely intensify in the weeks and months to come.
In addition, today’s tweet should clarify things for US military personnel who will be in Mauritania for the Flintlock Exercise next month: they now know that the current MoD is likely the next President. That’s good to know.
Today’s tweet should also assuage some IOC concerns about the presidential transition and there’s enough advance notice to be able to establish inroads to El Ghazouani and try to understand his attitudes toward the IOC community (which is obviously something NARCO can help with…)