Almost a year to the day since he led a coup in Mauritania, Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz has been officially invested as President in a ceremony in the capital, Nouakchott. Ould Abdel Aziz stood down as junta leader in order to run in the election in July. The vote was an opportunity for the West African desert nation to try to recoup billions of euros in pledged international aid which were frozen after Aziz ousted the democratically-elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi last August. Ould Abdel Aziz will have to convince sceptical international donors that democracy has been restored.
He has also vowed to tackle terrorism, a growing concern for the West. The North African branch of Al-Qaeda has stepped up attacks in recent years in the sub-Saharan Sahel, particularly in Mali and Mauritania. In December 2007, the Paris-Dakar rally was cancelled after four French tourists were killed in Mauritania. Meanhwhile, in May, Al-Qaeda’s North African branch that it had executed Briton Edwin Dyer, one of six Western hostages kidnapped in the region between December and January. Washington is also watching closely after Al Qaeda in the Maghreb claimed it killed a US citizen in Nouakchott in June.