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Mauritania's Abdel Aziz: the strongman who took on Al-Qaeda

Mauritania's incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz casts his ballot at a polling station in Nouakchott, on June 21, 2014Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is seeking a new term in a vote Saturday, has become known for his iron rule and a relentless campaign against Al-Qaeda extremists. The former general, 57, seized power in the largely desert northwest African nation in a 2008 coup, ousting Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, whom he had served as presidential chief of staff. A quiet career soldier, Abdel Aziz criticised his predecessor for being too soft on Islamist extremists behind attacks and kidnappings. He soon won renown and Western support for decisive action against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

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