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Mauritania approves constitutional change, preliminary results show

[JURIST] Mauritania [government website, in Arabic; CIA backgrounder] citizens have approved changes to the country's constitution in a Sunday referendum [BBC Q/A] by 80 to 90 percent, according to preliminary results announced Monday by the Interior Ministry. The changes are being made to the 1991 constitution [text, in French] after a series of votes indicated citizens wanted a return to democracy, in sharp contrast the government of ousted [JURIST report] autocratic ruler Maaouiya Ould Taya [Wikipedia profile].

If the constitutional referendum passes, the president will be given broad powers, but parliament will also be able to vote no confidence in the government. The vote also marks a rare move by an African nation to impose term limits [JURIST report] on presidents, limiting presidencies to two terms of five years. A presidential election will take place in March. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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