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Islamists expected to win seats in Mauritania vote

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — A previously banned Islamist party that promotes Shariah law is poised to win seats in Mauritania's parliament following the weekend election, analysts said Sunday.

Election officials in Mauritania began releasing a few early results from Saturday's legislative and municipal races. It was the first time legislative polls were held since President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz took power in a coup in 2008. Opposition parties largely refused to participate because of concerns the vote would not be credible.

One likely consequence is that the Islamist Tawassoul party will win legislative seats for the first time, said Mohamed Ould Mokhtar, professor of political science at the University of Nouakchott. The party was banned until 2007.

The election commission said Saturday that turnout was at 60 percent and that results were expected by the middle of this week.

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