Sahrawis living in the Tindouf camps participated in the Mauritanian elections, held Friday 31st of August. The same thing applies for the elections in Algeria.
On Friday, 31st of August Mauritanians chose their representatives during the country’s Parliamentary and municipal elections. Around 1.4 million people were invited to elect members of parliament, regional councilors and mayors.
The compilation of the results of the elections, conducted by Mauritania’s independent electoral commission (CENI) started on Friday night. Politicians believe that the current elections are an opportunity for the Union for the Republic, the ruling party in Mauritania, to evaluate its popularity one year before the Presidential elections.
However, while some Mauritanians boycotted the elections, many Sahrawis from the Tindouf camps, who bear Mauritanian citizenships, headed to the country to participate to the vote.
For pro-Polisario online newspaper, Futuro Sahara, «the situation in Nouakchott is similar to previous Algerian elections, Sahrawis will travel to the neighboring country, Mauritania to vote». Criticizing the practice, the same source stated that «Sahrawis are used for situations like these, especially in neighboring countries, while their question remains unsolved».
«Refugees» who are allowed to vote
But this is not the first time that a similar practice makes headlines in the region. In 2016, 6,000 Sahrawis living in the camps south-eastern Algeria were invited to participate to Parliamentary and municipal elections in Mauritania, boycotted by the opposition.
In Algeria, a large number of Sahrawis, bearing Algerian citizenships, do take part in elections held in the neighboring country.
While local participation in the 2017 elections accounted for about 38% in Algeria, Tindouf ensured a 63% participation rate for the country.
For the pro-Polisario media, like Futuro Sahara, the participation of Saharawis from Tindouf in the Mauritanian and Algerian elections shows that they have both nationalities and therefore have the right to take part in the political scene of both countries.
But it argues, at the same time, that Saharawis from the Tindouf camps have simply become «an important electoral base», although they do not really have an impact on the political scene. They are just «a figure to fill the democratic celebrations in neighboring countries», concluded the same source.