Shot Mauritanian leader Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz returns home

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 November, 2012, 4:26am


Thousands of supporters welcomed Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz back from France, where he spent more than a month recovering after being shot by a soldier in what officials insist was an accident.

Crowds of well-wishers lined up along the three kilometres of road between Nouakchott airport and the presidential palace.

Abdelaziz flew home on a private jet after 40 days away. His absence had been marked by weeks of opposition protests questioning his ability to lead the country after the October 13 attack and decrying what they described as the power vacuum it had created.

Abdelaziz, however, was greeted by cheering supporters, who waved flags and dressed in the national colours of green and yellow, bearing giant posters of the president.

He appeared to be in good health as he walked across the tarmac to greet government officials and diplomats.

The 55-year-old leader was shot by a soldier in what the government has described as an accident. The gunman, Lieutenant Elhaj Ould H'Moudy, said he opened fire on the president's unmarked vehicle when it failed to heed his request stop at his mobile army checkpoint.

Abdelaziz was admitted to a military hospital near Paris a day after the shooting and was released 10 days later.

The president, who waved to supporters as he left the airport, did not make any statement.

But in an interview with French International Radio and Le Monde, he said "the accident will only increase my determination to fight the scourges undermining my country".