Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mauritania receives aid promise from France as Dakar Rally moves to safer shores

As French Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher promised more security aid to Mauritania, the Dakar Rally announced it will be leaving Africa for 2009 and take place in South America.

"Cooperation between our security services must be strengthened and Mauritania agrees on this," Reuters reported Kouchner saying. "The organisation al Qaeda is a threat to the world."

From Bloomberg:

The Dakar Rally will be hosted by Argentina and Chile in 2009 after this year's race was canceled because of security concerns following the killing of four French tourists in Mauritania, Agence France-Presse said.

The 6,000-kilometer (3,729-mile) race, overseen by France's Amaury Sport Organisation, will start and finish in Buenos Aires, AFP said, citing Etienne Lavigne, director of the Dakar Rally. It's scheduled for Jan 3-18.

The 29-year-old race, which traditionally starts in Europe before ending in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, had never been canceled before this year.

ASO decided against running this year's race after consultation with France's government. The four tourists, all from the same family, were shot Dec. 24 near Aleg, 250 kilometers east of Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott. There had also been threats to the event from terrorist groups.

Angry African on the Loose is not impressed. I can't say I blame him.

The Dakar Rally has always been proud of their commitment to Africa. They even included it in their values. It is a central part of their values. They mention Africa in their values more than 10 times! They talk about how the Dakar Rally should excite Africa and respect African people. And that the Dakar Rally plays such an important role in boosting Africa’s image. Wow, they must be committed to Africa. Imagine the damage to our image if they decided to hold it in another country. No, they won’t do that. They know how bad it would be and they love us too much to do something like that.

They write about it as if they truly believe in this relationship between Africa and Europe. That Africa is in their bones and in their blood. They say that “the 28-year old relationship between Dakar and Africa has now matured. It has blossomed from a friendship into an alliance between two adults who have decided to share in the work as well as the celebration“. Isn’t that nice words? Isn’t that nice, empty words? Looks like the engagement is off.

The first sign of trouble and they run to the hills. Trouble in Dakar? No. Trouble on the route along the way. But this is a weak excuse. The route has always changed to adapt to threats and developments. It’s just the ending that stayed the same -DAKAR!

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