Competitors participating to the 10th edition of the Africa Eco Race, which started from Monaco on December 31, have managed to cross the buffer zone separating Morocco and Mauritania. And despite threats from Polisario, the guerrilla group fighting the Moroccan government, the 2-week Monaco-Dakar rally headed on Monday, January 8, to its final destination in Senegal without encountering any problems, the yabiladi news website reports.
After 12 days, the 14 competitors participating to the Africa Eco Race, an annual rally event organised in North Africa, in response to the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally linking Monaco to the Senegalese capital, arrived on Monday in Boulenouar, Mauritania. The racers did not encounter any problems crossing the Moroccan and Mauritanian border, a passage which was supervised by United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
Meanwhile, Mohamed Khaddad, Polisario’s Coordinator with MINURSO, told the Spanish radio station La Cadina Ser that the rally’s organisers did not inform or coordinate with the Polisario Front. Last week, the separatist movement openly threatened to stop the Africa Eco Rally and prevent the competitors from crossing the Guerguerate area “in case they provoke us by carrying a Moroccan flag”.
A week ago Wednesday, the front prevented participants in the UAE Desert Challenge from entering Mauritania, stopping them for more than one hour.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday 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 Berm – a sand wall which is 12 times the length of the Berlin Wall and second in length only to the Great Wall of China – and the Mauritanian border.
He said 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 exercise maximum restraint and to avoid escalating tensions.
Representing 27 different nationalities, drivers of 34 bikes, 1 quad, 35 cars, 9 SSV and 12 trucks will travel from Morocco and Mauritania before crossing the finish line at Lac Rose in Senegal on Sunday, January 14.