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Mauritania in talks to open new crossing with Algeria

The Mauritanian Minister of Culture and Government Spokesman Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheikh has expressed hope in the possibility of opening its border post with Algeria which is currently designated as a military zone.

The idea is to open a new crossing point that will be secured and managed in a regulatory manner in order to ensure the transit of people and goods.

For several years, the borders between Mauritania, Algeria and Mali have become a no man's land of lawlessness in which a multitude of activities related to cross-border crimes including weapons, drugs, cigarettes, migrants and terror activities have become common place.

The new crossing talks are likely to antagonise Morocco as there are reported discussions of a closure of the border between Morocco and Mauritania at Guerguerate and replace it with the Mauritanian-Algerian borders near Tindouf which would allegedly deny Morocco a direct access route to the sub-Sahara African region.

Read: Mauritania disappointed as Morocco hosts opposition

The decision of a new border post, which would be the first since the two countries' independence, is something the Algerian government has been keen on, raising the issue in December 2016 on the eve of the return of Morocco to the African Union.

The construction of the crossing will not be an easy task and connecting the nearest cities on either side, Tindouf in Algeria and Zouerate in Mauritania, which are more than 700 kilometres away, would require a new route to be created.  Popular with traffickers, high levels of civil and military deployments would be necessary to man the crossing.

Trade between Mauritania and Algeria by land is currently very low and the only exchanges at the 380 kilometre border are smuggled products and donations to the Tindouf camps where displaced Sahrawis from the Western Sahara live.

This is opposite to the Mauritanian-Moroccan border which has become a passage for Mauritania's trade in food supplies, textiles and electrical equipment.

Read more: Mauritania, Tunisia and Morocco discuss steps against torture

The Guergarate route is also popular with tourists wishing to visit Mauritania via Morocco with 40,000 tourists registered annually at the border crossing. This will not be the same for the Algerian-Mauritanian post as tourists are advised to steer well away from it because of the dangers in the area.

For Mauritania, the Algerian-Mauritanian border post is primarily aimed at securing the country against cross-border crime and allowing access to the Mauritanian territory via a single post from Algeria.Bottom of Form

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