NOUAKCHOTT - Mauritania's senate rejected a contentious constitutional amendment on its own abolition and the alteration of the country's flag to better represent those who battled for independence from France.
Thirty-three senators out of 56 voted against the amendment package, senate president Mohsen Ould El-hadji said.
The rejection by the senate came after lawmakers in the lower house of the west African Islamic republic passed the measure earlier this month.
But the amendment, which would see the Ssnate replaced by regional councils, must be passed by both lower and upper houses to become law.
The government has a majority in both chambers.
"The amendment is therefore definitively defeated by the senators. (It is up) to the president to decide whether to continue by way of a referendum", another option to get the measured passed, constitutional expert Vadhily Ould Rayess told AFP.
Under the amendment, those who fought for freedom from colonial master France would be represented on a new flag by a red band at the top and bottom of the country's green national banner, representing blood spilt for their nation.
Mauritania won independence in 1960.
The current green flag with a crescent and star symbolises the importance of Islam in the conservative republic, but lawmakers in the lower house from the ruling majority felt the nation's independence struggle was not adequately represented.