ATAR (Mauritania) - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Monday ruled out sending troops to Mali, where the embattled government has lost control of the north to Al-Qaeda-linked militias.
"There will be no Mauritanian military intervention in Mali," he said overnight at a local forum in the northern town of Atar marking the third anniversary of his rise to power.
"The problem there is very complex and we don't have the solution," he said, adding however that his country, which borders Mali, would take part in the international community's efforts to restore peace.
The entire northern half of Mali has been occupied since late March by rebels with links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has also carried out attacks in Mauritania.
Abdel Aziz warned against "the terrorist risk which will grow and can be a catastrophe for the entire world."
He said the first step will be for Mali to have a strong and representative government in Bamako.
The embattled West African nation is currently under the stewardship of a transition government which took over from a military junta that ousted the previous regime on March 22.
The coup by soldiers angry at government's inability to deal with a Tuareg rebellion in the north, created an even bigger political and military vacuum which allowed the rebels and Islamic extremists to take over the vast desert zone.
The interim government has stood by helplessly as the extremists have taken full control, pushing out the Tuareg and implementing strict sharia law, publicly whipping smokers and drinkers and forcing women to cover up.
Last week an unmarried couple was stoned to death and on Sunday residents of the town of Gao protested to stop the Islamists from cutting off the hand of a thief.
"We saw this problem coming, we said it and history proved us right," Abdel Aziz added, underlining the role of his army which has carried out attacks against AQIM bases in Mali to protect his country against their attacks.
Mediators from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered the interim government to form a more inclusive unity government which would be better equipped to deal with the various crises.
An initial deadline of July 31 was postponed, and it is not clear when the government will be in place.
ECOWAS wants to send a 3,000-strong military force to Mali but is waiting for United Nations approval and a formal request from a more inclusive government.