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June 21, 2014 AT 5:33 AM
Small groups of voters trickled into polling centers in Mauritania early on Saturday in an election where incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was counting on a high turnout to see off an opposition boycott and boost his authority. In the first hours of voting, turnout appeared low, even at major polling stations in the capital Nouakchott. However, it has long been plagued by political instability and military coups. Abdel Aziz came to power in August 2008 when he ousted President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi, the country's first democratically elected president, whose short stint as leader was undone by fighting within his own party.