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Mauritanians head to polls in 1st election since independence

RABAT, June 22 (KUNA) --Voting process in Mauritania started Saturday to elect a new president for the country in the first democratic transition of power since independence in 1960.
The election came after President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has agreed to step down after a two-term limit of office.
More than a million people are eligible to vote in Saturday's election in which six candidates are competing for the presidency.
The defense minister and the close ally of the current president Mohamed Ahmed Ould Ghazouani is the frontrunner.
On their part, opposition candidates are also taking part in a move seen as a positive step forward, after boycotting several previous polls. During the election campaign, which concluded Friday night, the six candidates promised to work on improving the economic, social and cultural conditions in the country.
The country's electoral commission has promised a free and fair election, despite claims by the opposition that it is biased in favor of the governing party.
Mauritania's press authority said on Friday that it had received no complaints about the coverage of the campaign.
More than 100 international and regional observers are monitoring the voting process, from the African Union, United Nations, and representatives of civilian institutions.
A run-off election is due to be held on 6 July, if Saturday's election ends with no clear winner. (end) mry.nhq