Mauritania's ruling Union for the Republic Party (UPR) has won a ruling majority in parliament after a second round of legislative elections, issued results show.

The UPR party entered Saturday's election with a secured victory in the November 23 first round after a boycott by several opposition parties - who insisted that they would not be fair - in the mainly Muslim republic, a former French colony on the west coast of the Sahara desert.

According to Sunday's results, which decided an outstanding 26 seats, the UPR held 74 seats in the 147-member National Assembly.

UPR's allies from smaller parties numbered 34 seats, pushing UPR's total legislative muscle to 108 seats.

The opposition held 37 seats, 16 of them taken by an Islamist party, Tawassul, participating in elections for the first time after since 2007 after a ban was lifted.

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Tawassul, whose ideology mirrors the Muslim Brotherhood, has said that the election was marred by fraud.

Following independence from France in 1960 and the ensuing one-party government of Moktar Ould Daddah, deposed in 1978, Mauritania had a series of military rulers until its first multi-party election in 1992.

This latest election was seen as a test of strength for President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz five years after he came to power in a coup and four years after he won a widely contested vote.

Mauritania is seen as strategically important in the fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda within its own borders, as well as in neighbouring Mali and across Africa's Sahel region.

Mauritania, a country of 3.2 million people, has reserves of iron ore, copper and gold and is seeking to encourage
exploration in its offshore oil and gas sector.

Source: Agencies