Thousands of supporters have welcomed Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz back from France, where he has been recovering since being shot by a soldier in what officials insist was an accident.
Crowds of well-wishers lined up along the three kilometre road between Nouakchott airport and the presidential palace to show their support.
Abdel Aziz flew home on a private jet on Saturday after 40 days away.
His absence had been marked by weeks of protests by opposition supporters, who have questioned the president's ability to lead after the attack and decried what they described as the power vacuum it had created.
Abdel Aziz however was warmly welcomed by his cheering supporters, who waved flags and dressed in the national colours of green and yellow, bearing giant posters of the president.
'Your health is the guarantee of our progress. Your absence saddened us, your return relieves us,' they chanted.
He appeared to be in good health as he arrived, walking across the tarmac to greet officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
The 55-year-old Mauritanian leader was shot by a soldier on October 13 in what the government has described as an accident.
The gunman, Lieutenant Elhaj Ould H'Moudy, has said he opened fire on the president's unmarked vehicle when it failed to heed his request to stop at a mobile army checkpoint.
Abdel Aziz was admitted to a military hospital near Paris a day after the shooting and was released 10 days later.
The president did not make any statement upon his return.
On Saturday however, in an interview with French International Radio (RFI) and Le Monde newspaper, he said 'the accident will only increase my determination to fight the scourges undermining my country.'
While it was initially reported that he had been shot in the arm, Aziz told the French media that he had taken a bullet to the stomach.
His intestines had been hit and required post-operative care.
Abdel Aziz insisted that his regime would 'hold out a hand' to the opposition, which as far back as May had been staging regular protests calling for him to step down.
'But the opposition must know that to get to power, you have to go through the ballot box and without the ballot box you can't demand anything.'
The opposition accuses the former general of having failed to respect commitments made in the Dakar accords that led to his election in 2009, a year after he seized power in a coup d'etat.
The president's mandate expires in 2014.
Abdel Aziz said that if legislative polls, postponed in 2011 and now planned before the end of the year, showed a turnaround in his support 'we are ready to make the necessary gestures for the country.'
Abdel Aziz arrived home amid international efforts to resolve the crisis in neighbouring Mali, where Islamists have seized control of swathes of the north.
He opposes a planned African military intervention, which is supported by western powers.