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Mauritanian Opposition Rejects Constitutional Council Validating Aziz Win

Political opponents of Mauritanian President-elect Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz say they will continue to fight against the results of a vote that they say was fraudulent. The country's Constitutional Council says the Aziz victory stands.

Mauritanian opposition leaders are calling out their supporters to demonstrate Saturday against what they say was a "hijacked election."

In a written statement, opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah called on all Mauritanians to reject what he calls this new coup d'etat and engage in all forms of democratic struggle to defend the rights of the free choice of the governed, their liberty, their dignity, and the stability of the country.

He praised what he says is the courage of Electoral Commission Chairman Sid Ahmed Ould Deye, who resigned Thursday saying opposition complaints have "sown doubts" in his mind about the reliability of the election.

Mauritania's Constitutional Council had no such doubts.

Council President Abdellahi Ould Ely Salem says the constitutional court validated the results of Saturday's vote because opposition allegations of electoral fraud were too vague and offered no proof to challenge the Aziz win.

Salem says observers from each of the candidates campaigns signed the vote totals submitted by each polling station. The council's legal advisors, the Independent Electoral Commission, and the Interior Ministry all concluded that the vote was valid.

The Council's decision can not be appealed, leaving the opposition little choice for further action outside of public demonstrations.

Nouakchott University law professor Nema Ould Ahmed Zidane says the opposition's refusal to accept the Constitutional Council's decision has no legal basis and is purely political.

The European Union says opposition allegations of electoral fraud "should be properly investigated" by Mauritania "in accordance with national law and international standards." But that leaves the inquiry in the hands of the incoming Aziz administration and is far short of opposition demands for an independent international investigation.

Observers from the African Union and Arab League say the vote was fair. Former colonial power France says there were no major anomalies. The Arab Democracy Foundation found partisan electoral officials among several irregularities it reported, but none that it said would affect the final outcome.

Official results say Aziz won more than 52 percent of the vote, making last year's coup leader this year's president without a second round of voting in which Daddah and National Assembly President Messaoud Ould Boulkheir had vowed to unite against him.

Aziz toppled Mauritanian's first freely-elected leader last August. He then changed the constitution to allow military reservists to run for political office before resigning his commission to declare his candidacy.

Aziz supporters say the former general will be inaugurated as president next week.