Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 11:24 UK

Mauritania army 'to fight terror'

Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz
Gen Abdelaziz ousted Mauritania's only democratically elected leader

Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz has vowed to tackle terrorism, as well as its causes, after being declared the winner of Saturday's presidential election.

Gen Abdelaziz, who came to power in a coup last year, said the army would be strengthened.

Al-Qaeda's North African cell has claimed several attacks in Mauritania - a US man was killed last month.

Gen Abdelaziz, who denied the election had been rigged, said fighting poverty and ignorance would also be priorities.

On Sunday officials announced he had won the poll outright, with 52% of the vote.

Even before the results were announced, his challengers said the outcome had been "prefabricated" and called for an international inquiry.

Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz
Messaoud Ould Boulkheir
Ahmed Ould Daddah

Source: Interior Minister Mohamed Ould Rzeizim

But the general challenged the opposition to provide evidence to back up their claims.

"Whatever [they] say, our camp did not engage in fraud," he said.

"It's not enough just to say there has been fraud - you have to provide proof."

In his first news conference after being declared the winner, Gen Abdelaziz said he took the threat of terrorism seriously.

"We need to fight terrorism in terms of security but also by improving the living conditions of the people and fighting ignorance."

Earlier, one of the main opposition candidates, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, told a news conference: "The results which are starting to come out show that it is an electoral charade which is trying to legitimise the coup."

A statement from the group of four challengers read: "We firmly reject these prefabricated results, secondly we call on the international community to put in place an inquiry to shed some light on the electoral process."

Mr Boulkheir, the outgoing speaker of parliament, came second with 16% of the vote, while veteran opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah came third with 14%, according to the official results.

Voter turnout was 61%, the election commission said.

Fighting terrorism had also been one of Gen Abdelaziz's justifications for staging the August 2008 coup, which ousted Mauritania's only democratically elected leader Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

He had been in power for less than a year and a half.

Last year's Paris-Dakar rally was cancelled after the killing of a family of French tourists in Mauritania.

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Inter Press Service POLITICS-MAURITANIA: Election Results Challenged - 10 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Coup leader wins Mauritania poll - 46 hrs ago
France24 MAURITANIA: Aziz wins presidential vote, opposition calls results 'prefabricated' - 50 hrs ago
Financial Times Abdel Aziz wins Mauritania poll - 52 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Junta leader declared Mauritania president - 55 hrs ago

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