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Mauritania Opposition Demands Election After President Is Shot

Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Photographer: Matthew Mirabelli/AFP/GettyImages

Mauritania’s opposition leader demanded elections to end a “constitutional vacuum” created by the absence of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who’s being treated in France after being shot by soldiers in what the government says was an accident.

Saleh Ould Hanenna, president of the Coordination of Democratic Opposition in Mauritania, called for a transitional period to be announced and for a “convincing explanation” of the circumstances of the president’s shooting, and his current medical condition. He was speaking at a rally in the capital, Nouakchott, late yesterday.

Abdel Aziz was shot “by mistake” on Oct. 13 by a military unit accompanying him, according to Hamdi Ould Mahjoub, the communications minister and government spokesman. Messoud Ould Boulkheir, president of the National Assembly, told journalists on Oct. 31 that he had spoken to Abdel Aziz that day and president’s health was improving.

The Associated Press yesterday quoted members of Abdel Aziz’s family as saying that he is recovering well and should return home soon. His son, Ahmedou Aziz, said the president had been traveling in an unmarked car with no official escort, and guards at a checkpoint had failed to recognize it and opened fire when the vehicle failed to slow down, AP said.

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