The cancellation of this year’s Lisbon-Dakar rally over security fears in Mauritania has continued to elicit reactions from the African nation, which was billed to host several legs of the prestigious race.
In the latest reaction on Monday, Mauritanian Crafts and Tourism Minister, Ba Madine, expressed the government’s “sadness and disappointment” over the cancellation.
On his return from Lisbon, Portugal, where he was to attend the start of the race, Madine said that those feelings were “shared by all participants and organisers, who had been preparing for the major event for a year before the rally was inexplicably cancelled at the last minute”.
He added that Mauritania “had taken all the necessary practical measures to guarantee the safety of participants” while in the country.
The Minister explained that 4,000 security officers and significant logistics were mobilized to secure the eight stages that had been planned for Mauritania.
He said insecurity should not be used as an alibi for the cancellation of the rally, calling on all those who wished to visit Mauritania not to give up on their plans.
“The country remains unchanged, I mean safe and stable,” he told PANA here.
Organisers of the rally decided to cancel this year’s edition because of terrorism threats in Mauritania, following the killing of four French tourists in the African nation in December.
It was the first time the rally has been cancelled since the first edition in 1979.
The rally, in which cars, motorcycles and trucks engage in tough contest across the Sahara desert, is one of the most keenly-contested event in world sport