General Mohamed Ould El Ghazouani has recently emerged within Mauritanian circles, especially after being chosen by the ruling regime, as a candidate for the June 2019 presidential election, in addition to the support he receives from the current president, Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz.
He has been a partner in governance since 2005. He is a veteran military veteran who enjoys the trust and respect of the majority of the military establishment. He also enjoys an impressive military background, having obtained military certificates and training courses in the field of war. He also controls more than 19 military units.
Al-Ghazwani has the support of the Mauritanian street. More than 100 city mayors have recommended it, while Mauritanian law requires only 100 local councilors, including five mayors.
His full name is Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed Ahmed Ould El Ghazwani, known to the Mauritanians as a “Ghazwani” and descended from a well-known Sufi scientific family, from Boumediad province in the east of the country.
He is 63 years old, married and father of five, and is described by his close associates as a quiet man.
He joined the ranks of the army as a volunteer in 1978; he led an infantry faction in the Third Military Region in 1981, and then commanded the infantry faction of the second military zone in 1983.
He was a military escort in 1987 to President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya. In addition, he played an important role in the 2005 coup that toppled the former president, but remained in the shadows before the emergence of his friend Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
He was a member of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, which ran the country, and led a transitional period that resulted in the election of the first civilian president in the history of the country, Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.
Sheikh al-Ghazwani was appointed commander of the national forces in 2008, but the relationship between the former president and al-Ghazwani and his military friends worsened; things ended with a military coup led by Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in 2008.
Since 2008, Aziz and Ghazwani have ruled the country with a strong grip. Ould El Ghazwani took over the presidency of the Supreme Defense Council in 2009, while Aziz took over the administration of the presidential palace.
At the end of 2012, El-Ghazwani was the actual president of the country. He became the holder of all the files. In view of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s injury, he was shot in an incident known to the Mauritanians as the “Tawila” incident.
Al-Ghazwani was appointed in October as defense minister, indicating the end of his military service and the beginning of a new phase.