Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has called for country’s Senate to be abolished after he described it as a foreign replica with little or no significance.
Aziz made the announcement during an impromptu speech at a public meeting in Nema, in the far east of Mauritania on Tuesday, adding that a constitutional amendment to this effect will be submitted to a referendum.
The west African leader called for a national referendum to decide over the move while giving opposition parties three to four weeks to decide whether they will take part in the vote.
We are calling on the entire political class to attend a dialogue on that issue (suppression of the Senate,) which will be subject to a constitutional referendum.
President of Mauritania Mohamed Abdel Aziz announces plans to hold a constitutional referendum on whether the senate should be abolished— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) May 4, 2016
“We are calling on the entire political class to attend a dialogue on that issue (suppression of the Senate,) which will be subject to a constitutional referendum,” he said without disclosing a date for the vote.
Aziz blamed the 58-member senate of prolonging law adoption procedures and suggested that regional councils to be made up of locals would replace the legislature.
“The councils will ensure the economic and social development of their regions,” Aziz said.
The current senate, sitting since 2010, is largely made up of members of the ruling party and its mandate has reportedly expired.
Aziz, 59, has been accused by rights activists of seeking to prolong his stay in office beyond his mandate which ends in 2019 after calls by some members of his cabinet for a constitutional change to allow him to run again.