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It's estimated that 10-20 percent of the country's 3.5 million people are still enslaved in a system rooted in ethnic discrimination.
() Mauritania has a new president: Mohamed Ould Ghazouani won the elections with an absolute majority. The African Union wants to change this and launch the world's largest free trade area.
Earlier on Sunday, Ghazouani declared himself the winner of the Saturday polls.
Mauritania's government also declared victory for the former general and congratulated him.
In the past few years, the government has been able to bring down the levels of conflict.
Al-Qaida documents seized from Osama bin Laden's hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad indicated that the Islamist group had discussed a possible peace deal with Mauritanian authorities in 2010, a year prior to bin Laden's killing by US forces.
Authorities denied that such a deal existed and claimed that intelligence work and the rehabilitation of imprisoned jihadis caused a decline in Islamist attacks.
Mauritanians go to the polls to vote in a controversial constitutional referendum boycotted by several opposition parties and civil society groups.
Continuity and security Gilles Yabi, the founder of the West African think tank WATHI, told Reuters that if Ghazouani secured a victory, he would probably carry forward his predecessor's policies, but Yabi added: "Ghazouani is someone who is very discreet.
Some 1.5 million people in the West African state were entitled to vote in the presidential election.
Economic issues dominated the election campaign, with the outgoing president largely credited with stabilizing the country after seizing power in a 2008 coup.
Abdel Aziz was later elected as president in 20 in a vote boycotted by the main opposition parties.
Mauritania poll returns incumbent as opposition boycotts vote Abdel Aziz backed Ghazouani, who was heavily tipped to win the presidential election.
Opposition candidates reject results Speaking at a news conference with three other candidates, Boubacar said that "multiple irregularities ...