'Dakar Rally should come home'
Singer and current Senegalese Minister of Tourism, Youssou N'Dour, said on Wednesday he believes it is time for the Dakar Rally, held in South America over the past five years, to come home to Senegal.
The past five editions of the race, currently under way in Peru, have been held outside Senegal owing to security fears but N'Dour says it should "resume its route" back in Africa or else change its name, a source close to him told AFP.
"For Youssou N'Dour, there is no question of the rally continuing to retain the Dakar name and yet not run in Africa. Either the race resumes in Africa - or it drops the Dakar name," Charles Faye, N'Dour's communications officer, said.
"Youssou N'Dour cannot accept the rally retaining the kudos of the Dakar name and yet not come (back) to Africa," said Faye.
"They (the organisers) are free to go where they want but they shouldn't keep the Dakar name (as that entails) using backing (from advertisers) which earn money" for them, Faye indicated, claiming that Dakar is "considerably" losing out in terms of tourism since the event moved continents.
The decision to move the race came in 2007 following the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania by a pro-Al Qaeda group in the Maghreb as well as the killings of three Mauritanian soldiers.
The killings shortly before the race was due to begin saw the participants stay in Lisbon rather than head for Africa and the race was cancelled.
The event was then moved to South America where it has remained.
This year's edition, running to January 20, takes in Peru and Chile as well as making an incursion into Argentina.