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Mauritania's presidential poll set for June 21

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

The mostly desert nation of Mauritania will go to the polls to pick a new president on June 21, the official news agency said on Monday.

"The electoral college is convened on Saturday June 21, 2014, and in the event of a second round, on Saturday July 5," the agency reported, citing a government decree.

Candidates have until May 7 to file applications to run for the highest office, and campaigning will take place between June 6 and June 19, according to the text.

President Ould Abdel Aziz, a former army general who took power in a coup in August 2008, was elected the following year for a five-year term. He is expected to make a bid for another term in office.

Late in January, a renowned anti-slavery activist in the northwest African nation, Birame Ould Dah Ould Abeid, announced that he planned to run as an independent candidate.

Ould Abeid, a descendant of slaves himself, has won international recognition for leading efforts to combat slavery in a nation where it still exists, despite an official ban more than 30 years ago.

Talks are due in the coming days between the current rulers and members of the opposition over how the elections will be run.

The radical opposition National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU) late last month set conditions for entering the presidential race, demanding changes to the electoral authorities organising the poll.

The FNDU combines the Islamist movement Tewassoul and 10 parties allied in the Coordination for a Democratic Opposition, which boycotted parliamentary and municipal elections late last year.

The talks are due to last 12 days, officials said, and will bring together 33 representatives from three political poles: 11 from the presidential majority, 11 from the moderate opposition and 11 from the radical opposition.

All sides have agreed to talk regardless of the official date set for the vote, but that date "can be revised if there is political agreement", Abdessalam Ould Horma, chief negotiator for the moderate opposition, told AFP on Monday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140421/mauritanias-presidential-poll-set-june-21