On Oct. 3, the campaign of would-be Mauritanian president Mustapha Olahu Weld Bessid, former Red Top cabdriver in D.C., finally made it to Mauritanian soil (“Fare Elections,” 10/3). After multiple missed flights, Bessid landed in his native country with four days to spare before the cutoff date for ballot qualification, which required 50 signatures.

With Mauritanians charging $200 apiece to sign electoral petitions, Bessid reported via e-mail on Oct. 5 that he had exhausted his campaign war chest. “Things not going well here,” he wrote. “10 signatures already, 40 more to go [at] 200 U.S. dollars each.”

A week later, Bessid reported that he wouldn’t be on the Nov. 7 ballot. “I could not make it,” he wrote. He had decided, he said, to throw his support behind the incumbent, President Maaouya Olud Sid’Ahmed Taya—in part, he said, because Taya is opposed to Muslim-extremist violence. Bessid himself was physically attacked by two men who called him an American spy, he wrote.

“Mr. Taya is the real choice, and I hope he will win,” Bessid said. “We don’t need [a] Muslim extremist to run this country.”

Having abandoned his hopes for the presidency, Bessid is looking for a job so he can earn enough money to fly back to the District. It may take as long as a year, he said. To future politicians, he offered one piece of advice: “Never go overseas without money in your savings account in America.” CP

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