Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bicycle Diplomacy Opens Algerian Border - Briefly

Over the last few years there have been diplomatic moves to ease the tensions between Algeria and Morocco, especially in regard to the closed borders. Now a judge in the Algerian town of Maghnia has agreed to a temporary opening  of the Zouj Bghal crossing in order to allow Moroccan cyclists to take part in a cycle race.

The border crossing, Zouj Bghal, between Morocco and Algeria has been shut since 1994

The opening of the border, which has been closed since 1994 was confirmed by the judge who said the brief opening came at the request of the Moroccan government. He also said that the decision was cleared with the Algerian government. "Political orders from the Algerian government were given in order to open the border," he said.

The border closures came after Morocco accused the Algerian authorities of planning a hotel bombing in Marrakech that killed two Spanish tourists. They placed visa requirements on Algerians who then did the same and closed the borders.

The border between Algeria and Morocco was also opened briefly back in February 2009 to allow convoys of aid for Gaza to pass through (see our story here).

Although this is only a temporary opening of the borders, it is hoped it may lead to the situation improving between the two countries. Mourad Medelci, the Algerian Foreign Minister is quoted as saying that there are some "positive developments" in relations with Morocco.

One can only hope there are more cycle tours planned for the future.


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