Thousands of Mauritanians participated on Thursday in a public rally in the capital Nouakchott called by the opposition to reject the results of the legislative and local elections held on May 13.

Festival participants held banners calling for a re-poll and criticizing the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Several opposition parties were invited to participate in the festival, namely the Union of Forces of Progress, the Democratic Forces Bloc, the Popular Progressive Alliance, the Sawab Party, the National Rally for Reform and Development, and the Republican Front.

"The opposition will protect the voices of the people and will not accept this farce," said National Rally for Reform and Development (RND) leader Amadi Ould Sidi Mokhtar, referring to the recent elections.

In his speech at the festival, he stressed "the need to repeat the elections," adding that "widespread fraud has affected the elections, which confirms the need to repeat them."

"We will continue the peaceful struggle until the re-election, we will protect the voices of the people," Ould Sidi al-Mokhtar said.

"For the first time, there is a consensus between the opposition and loyalists (not including the ruling party) that the elections are rigged," he said, referring to nine parties from the majority supporting President Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani's demand for a re-election.

Mauritanians cast their votes in legislative and local elections (Al Jazeera)

Election credibility

Ahmed Ould Daddah, head of the Democratic Forces Bloc, said the opposition would continue to defend the country's democracy.

"We will continue to defend our rights and freedoms and the interest of the country. The opposition will not be silent on this injustice, the elections must be repeated."

The opposition is demanding re-elections in Nouakchott, the western province of Bouttlemet and some other polling stations that it says have "witnessed widespread fraud".

The election sparked controversy in the country after opposition and loyalist political parties spoke of "widespread fraud" and demanded that their results be annulled and reinstated.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (the supervisory body) reports "irregularities" that it asserts "do not affect the credibility of the electoral process".

The ruling Equity Party topped the results announced in the first round of the election with 80 parliamentary seats out of 176.

In contrast, opposition parties won 24 parliamentary seats, and other parties (loyalists) supporting President Ghazouani won 36 parliamentary seats.

According to the results announced by the committee, the ruling "Equity" party won all 13 regional councils, as well as the majority of the 238 local councils.

On Sunday, the election commission officially announced the results of the first round of elections, while the second round was scheduled for May 27 to decide the remaining 36 parliamentary seats.