The new President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, was on Wednesday sworn in to the highest office of the Saharan country after winning an election last month. The defeated opponents have denounced the poll as a fraud, but France said it was ready to re-engage with the Islamic state, which has pledged to make the fight against al Qaeda a policy priority. “With this election, Mauritania has become not only respectable again, but also become once again for France a key partner in the region,” French Minister for Cooperation Alain Joyandet told reporters in the capital Nouakchott before the ceremony.
“President Aziz is particularly sensitive to the question of security and the fight against the terrorist threat,” he said, urging cooperation between Mauritania and Mali in this area. Both Mauritania and neighbour Mali have been the scenes of al Qaeda attacks, the former most recently when the group’s North Africa wing claimed responsibility for the shooting of an American aid worker in Nouakchott in June.
Speaking before several thousand supporters who attended the swearing-in ceremony in Nouakchott’s Olympic Stadium, Aziz pledged to fight corruption and uphold the rule of law.
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