2017 Mauritanian constitutional referendum

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A two-part constitutional referendum was held in Mauritania on 5 August 2017,[1] having initially been planned for 15 July.[2] Voters were asked whether they approve of proposed amendments to the constitution. Both proposals were approved by 86% of voters with a voter turnout of 54%.[3]

Proposed amendments[edit]

The referendum was split into two questions on different proposed reforms. One covered abolition of the indirectly-elected Senate and its replacement with regional councils, as well as merging the Islamic High Council and the national Ombudsman into a 'Supreme Council of the Fatwa'.[4] The second question covered national symbols, including a proposal to change the national flag by adding a red band at the top and bottom to symbolize "the efforts and sacrifices that the people of Mauritania will keep consenting, to the price of their blood, to defend their territory",[5] as well as modifying the national anthem.[6]

National flag proposition, as shown to the parliament in the debates[7]

A proposal to allow President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to run for a third term was dropped after protests in Nouadhibou.[8]

Although 141 of the 147 members of the National Assembly voted in favour of the changes,[8] they were rejected by the Senate in March 2017, with 33 of its 56 members voting against, including 24 members of the ruling Union for the Republic.[5]


Former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi called for voters to oppose the changes, claiming it would be a "constitutional coup".[9] The opposition coalition, the National Forum for Democracy and Unity, also rejected the changes.[10] The official campaign began on 21 July.[4]


Constitutional reforms[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 584,084 85.61
Neutral 30,039 4.40
Against 68,124 9.99
Invalid/blank votes 64,408
Total 746,655 100.00
Registered voters/turnout 1,389,092 53.75
Source: Al Akhbar

National symbols[edit]

Adopted national flag
Choice Votes %
For 573,935 85.67
Neutral 28,894 4.31
Against 67,146 10.02
Invalid/blank votes 76,314
Total 746,289 100.00
Registered voters/turnout 1,389,092 53.72
Source: Al Akhbar


  1. ^ Mauritania: Constitutional referendum postponed to 5 August Jeune Afrique, 9 June 2017
  2. ^ Mauritanians to decide on July 15 whether President could extend reign North Africa Post, 25 April 2017
  3. ^ Mauritanie - Référendum constitutionnel : la CENI proclame les résultats Al-Akhbar, 7 August 2017
  4. ^ a b Mauritanie : le référendum sur la révision constitutionnelle à l’épreuve de l’abstention Jeune Afrique, 4 August 2017
  5. ^ a b Mauritania vows referendum to abolish Senate, change flag News 24, 23 March 2017
  6. ^ Mauritania's referendum set for July 15 APA News, 20 April 2017
  7. ^ H24Info.ma avec AFP (28 November 2017). "Mauritanie: nouveau drapeau et nouvel hymne pour la fête nationale". H24info. H24Info. Retrieved 13 November 2020.CS1 maint: date and year (link).
  8. ^ a b Mauritania votes to change constitution despite widespread protests The New Arab, 9 March 2017
  9. ^ Former Mauritania president slams ‘constitutional coup’ AA, 27 March 2017
  10. ^ Mauritanian opposition slams planned constitution vote AA, 24 March 2017