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Despite the Polisario’s threats, Africa Eco Race’s participants cross Guerguerat

Drivers participating to the 12th edition of the Africa Eco Race were able, Monday, to cross Guerguerat safely, organizers told Yabiladi. The crossing comes after the Polisario threatened to block the Guerguerat stage of the annual race.

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The 2020 Africa Eco Race crosses Guerguerat. / DR

Despite the threats of the Polisario Front, drivers participating to the 12th edition of the Africa Eco Race, an annual rally raid organized in North Africa, have safely crossed the Guerguerat stage, organizers told Yabiladi.

On Monday, while crossing Guerguerat, the sixth stage of the annual race, participants «stopped for a few minutes», before being able to enter Mauritania, organizers said. «Participants crossed safely after they spoke to people who were blocking the border crossing and protesting against the race», the same source added.

Pro-Polisario protesters «held flyers, that they insisted on handing over to the racers», organizers said. «They gave them to us and we resumed the race», organizers told Yabiladi, adding that «members of the MINURSO were present during the crossing».  

«The race will start normally in Mauritania. Some drivers have already arrived in Chami Bivouac in Mauritania», organizers said. «They certainly have things to say and everyone has the right to speak (…) we have nothing to say about this situation», they added, referring to protesters who were blocking the border crossing.

The UN reacts to the Polisario's threats

The situation in Guerguerat occurred days after the Polisario Front threatened in a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene and stop the annual rally. Sent last week by the Front’s representative at the United Nations Mohamed Omar, the letter denounced the Africa Eco Race Sahara crossing.

Meanwhile, the Front threated to «use all means» to «respond resolutely to any actions that aim to undermine the integrity of Western Sahara».

The UN Secretary General eneded up by responding to the Polisario’s threats, stressing the importance «of allowing regular civilian and commercial traffic» to proceed in Guerguerat and to refrain from any action that may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip.

Quoting the UN Secretary General, Saturday, Stephane Dujarric, his spokesperson, said that all actors must be allowed «to exercise maximum restraint and to defuse any tensions».

While it observed silence during the 2019 edition of the race, the Front made headlines in 2018, threatening to block the Africa Eco Race’s participants.

In January 2018, the Polisario deployed its armed forces to Guerguerate, threatening to prevent participants from crossing the region.

Commenting on the crisis, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said 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».

For the record, the 12th edition of the Africa Eco Race includes 12 stages, linking Tangier to Dakar, Senegal.

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