Mauritania’s Aziz branded ‘incapable’

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IOL pic nov26 mauritania aziz Reuters Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. File photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Nouakchott - Mauritania's opposition said on Sunday that President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, shot in the intestines in what was described as an accident, is not capable of leading the nation and must step down.

Abdel Aziz returned home on Saturday after 40 days recuperating in France following the October 13 shooting, prompting opposition protests against a power vacuum in his absence.

“We maintain that the head of state is incompetent and his regime must get out,” said Saleh Ould Henenna of the coalition Co-ordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) at a press conference.

“The coming days will prove that Abdel Aziz is physically incapable just as he has always been politically, to lead the country and that his return will only complicate the chances for a solution to the country's crisis.”

The country's opposition has long demanded that Aziz step down, and began regular protests against his regime since May.

The opposition accuses the former general of having failed to respect commitments made in the Dakar accords that led to his election in 2009, a year after he seized power in a coup d'etat.

The president's mandate expires in 2014.

In an interview with French International Radio (RFI) and Le Monde newspaper on Saturday he said he still has a comfortable majority in parliament to govern.

“The opposition must know that to get to power, you have to go through the ballot box and without the ballot box you can't demand anything.”

“I am not in the same shape as I was before the accident, but I still have all my mental and physical faculties and it is me who is leading the country.”

Abdel Aziz said that if legislative polls, postponed in 2011 and now planned before the end of the year, showed a turnaround in his support “we are ready to make the necessary gestures for the country”.

The 55-year-old president received a warm welcome home from thousands of supporters who lined the streets to greet him.

Abdel Aziz had been travelling in an unmarked vehicle when he came across a mobile army checkpoint outside the capital. His failure to stop led Lieutenant Elhaj Ould H'Moudy, who was dressed in plainclothes, to open fire.

H'Moudy has said it was a mistake, and has not been punished, with the government accepting that the shooting was an accident.

The opposition has demanded further investigation. - Sapa-AFP

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