Incumbent presidential candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz speaks at a campaign rally in Nouakchott June 19, 2014. Mauritania will hold presidential elections on Saturday. (REUTERS/Joe Penney)
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Mauritanians cast ballots Saturday in a presidential election that incumbent Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was expected to win handily as main opposition rivals boycotted the vote in the largely desert nation.The ex-army general, who seized power in the northwest African nation in a August 2008 coup, has campaigned strongly on his success in fighting armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda at home and in neighbouring Sahel nations.Main opposition parties have never accepted Abdel Aziz's 2009 victory in an election they said was marred by massive fraud.The National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU) -- an opposition coalition of 11 parties including a moderate Islamist movement -- has rallied to denounce Abdel Aziz's "dictatorial power" and are counting on a high abstention rate.Abdel Aziz will face four challengers who have highlighted many of the country's sensitive issues such as complex race relations between black Mauritanians and the dominant Arabs.
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