Speaking during an election rally, Wednesday, Mauritania’s former Defence Minister Mohamed Ould Ghazounai said that he is against the idea of granting Mauritanian citizenship to Sahrawis from the Tindouf camps. Ould Ghazouani is running for presidential elections, scheduled for June 22.
The Western Sahara issue is at the heart of the political campaign, which proceeds the 2019 Mauritanian presidential election, scheduled for June 22. On Wednesday, June 12, Mauritania’s former Defense Minister Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who is also one of the six candidates expected to vie for the Mauritanian presidency, said he will stand against granting Mauritanian citizenships to Sahrawis from the Tindouf camps once elected.
During an election rally, held in the city of Kaedi, Ould Ghazouani, who enjoys President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s support, told the crowds that he «will not be granting Mauritanian citizenship to Sahrawis living in Tindouf or elsewhere».
Ould Ghazouani stressed that the procedure is «unacceptable», adding that «European states, for example, do not grant citizenship to people who claim that they were born here or their parents were born there, the same thing goes for Morocco, Algeria and other countries».
«There are people who are from Western Sahara and others from Tindouf who claim that they are Mauritanians. Granting them this status would affect Mauritanians», he argued.
Mauritanian presidential elections and Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps
Ould Ghazouani’s remarks come as Mauritanians are expected to vote for their future president, choosing from a list that includes five other candidates. Sahrawis from the Tindouf camps, who have Mauritanian citizenships, will be voting later in June too.
However, the Ould Ghazouani’s words were not that welcoming to some of them. On social media, several Sahrawis denounced the decision of the candidate and rejected his words. «Ould Ghazouani voices the position of the Mauritanian regime on the Western Sahara issue and not that of the Mauritanian people», a pro-Polisario platform wrote on Facebook.
«Ould Ghazouani’s words were crystal clear and the message behind his statement was successfully conveyed», a Sahrawi internet user said, criticizing the Mauritanian candidate’s position.
The position of Ould Ghazouani is similar to the one recently voiced by the current Mauritanian President, regarding the Western Sahara issue. Interviewed by Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, in April, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said that «the West, the United States and Europe do not want a state geographically separating Mauritania from Morocco».
Referring to what he called a «dilemma», Ould Abdel Aziz told Atwan that «everything you hear, outside of this framework, is wrong», citing the Western Sahara issue.
For the record, Mauritania recognizes «SADR» since 1984 and maintains relations with the Polisario Front.