The ruling party in Mauritania scored a comfortable victory in last week’s legislative and local elections, according to official results on Sunday, a litmus test for the veteran head of state ahead of next year’s presidential poll.

The elections were the first since 2019, when President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani came to power.

He has overseen the West African country’s relative stability in the increasingly violent Sahel region and is widely expected to seek re-election in 2024, although he has not confirmed his plans.

Ghazouani’s El Insaf party was the favourite to win among the 25 parties vying for the backing of the country’s 1.8 million voters.

El Insaf took 80 of the 176 seats in parliament, announced the head of the independent electoral commission (CENI), Dah Abdel Jelil.