June 25, 2006

Early results suggest yes vote in Mauritania poll

NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - Mauritanians have voted hugely in
favor of limiting the number of terms future presidents can
serve, early indications from a referendum in the Islamic
republic showed late on Sunday.

The poll in the impoverished nation straddling Arab and
black West Africa asked voters to approve constitutional
changes that would prevent a president from serving more than
two terms, each of them limited to five years.

"On the basis of polling stations considered to be
representative the turnout will be around 70 percent and the
yes vote around 80 percent," Sidi Yeslim Amar Chein, a senior
government official helping organize the vote, told Reuters
hours after the polls closed.

If confirmed, the result would make Mauritania one of few
Arab nations to limit presidential terms and set it apart from
sub-Saharan Africa, where several leaders have amended
constitutional rules to keep themselves in power.

Ballots were still being tallied after the referendum, with
the trend based only on a partial count. Official results are
expected to be announced by the government on Monday.