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Lalla Idriss becomes only second woman to run for president in Mauritania

The head of the Mauritanian news agency has submitted her candidacy to stand for presidency ahead of elections on 21 June
Voters will go to the polls on 21 June to elect a new president with three candidates standing (AFP)

A prominent female political figure is standing for the presidency of Mauritania, the country's Constitutional Council said Wednesday,

"Lalla Mariem Mint Moulaye Idriss dropped off a file at the Constitutional Council containing her candidacy for the 21 June presidential elections," the body said in a statement.

Idriss, 57, an independent candidate, is only the second woman to ever seek election in a presidential poll in Mauritania, following the candidacy of Aicha Mint Jedeine who ran in 2003.

Women are weakly represented in the country, occupying only 20 percent of elected posts, and calls for equality in politics have grown.

Idriss, married with four children, is the head of the governing body of the Mauritanian news agency AMI.

Two other candidates had filed their intention to run as the midnight deadline loomed.

They are President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz - who is seeking reelection - and Boidel Ould Houmeid the head of the moderate El-Wiam party which currently counts seven lawmakers in the 147-seat parliament.

The National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU) opposition coalition said on Monday it was boycotting the vote after what it said was a breakdown in dialogue with the government.

The FNDU combines the Islamist movement Tewassoul and 10 parties allied in the Coordination for a Democratic Opposition, which boycotted parliamentary and municipal elections last year.