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Politics

Despite the Polisario’s threats, Monaco Dakar Rally crosses the buffer zone

Competitors participating to the Africa Eco Race have managed to cross the buffer zone separating Morocco and Mauritania. And despite the Polisario’s threats, the Monaco-Dakar rally headed on Monday to its final destination in Senegal without encountering any problems.

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For 12 days, competitors participating to the Africa Eco Race, an annual rally raid organized in North Africa and an answer to the cancellation of 2008 Dakar Rally, linking Monaco to the Senegalese capital have arrived on Monday in Boulenouar, Mauritania. Crossing the Guerguerate buffer zone, the racers did not have any problems passing through the Moroccan and Mauritanian borders.

In fact, fourteen contestants from 38 countries taking part in the rally successfully entered the Southern neighboring country. According to Ilaf, an online newspaper based in London, the last car to cross the Guerguerate border crossing did yesterday around 1pm.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Khaddad, the Polisario’s Coordinator with MINURSO, said in a statement to the Spanish radio station «La Cadina Ser» that «the rally’s organizers did not inform nor coordinate with the Front». Last week, the separatist movement has openly threatened, according to futuro Sahara, to stop Africa Eco Rally and prevent the competitors from crossing the Guerguerate area «in case they provoke us by carrying a Moroccan flag».

The Guerguerat crisis

Last Wednesday, the front’s militia prevented the participant of the UAE Desert Challenge in the region from entering Mauritania stopping them for more than one hour. The MINURSO forces later intervened demanding the release of the racers. Responding to that, the Front sent a letter last week to the United Nations in which it threatened to «deploy» its forces in the Guerguerate zone.

For the record, it had already withdrawn last April from the buffer zone after a UN resolution issued by the Security Council on the Sahara cause. Commenting on the current crisis, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said on Saturday in a statement that he was «deeply concerned about recent increased tensions in the vicinity of Guerguerat in the Buffer Strip in southern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border».

He stressed that «regular civilian and commercial traffic should not be obstructed and no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the buffer strip» and called the two parties to «to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid escalating tensions».

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