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CHAN: Algeria, CAF Are Still to Answer Morocco’s Request for Directly Flight Route

Rabat – Doubts remain over Morocco’s participation in the 2023 African Nations Championship (CHAN), with the North African country saying its request for its team to fly directly to the Algerian city of Constantine has still not received an official response from either Algeria or the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Last week, Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF) indicated that the North African kingdom was considering boycotting the continental competition because of Algeria’s travel restrictions on flights from Morocco.

The federation said that it will only take part in the competition if there is a direct flight from  Rabat to Constantine, the northeastern Algerian city where the Moroccan team will play its group matches.

FRMF’s president Fouzi Lekjaa reiterated Morocco’s request during a press conference on December 29, emphasizing that the host country “should” put in place all measures to facilitate countries’ participation in the tournament.

Morocco Not In A Rush

On Monday, Moroccan news outlet Le360 quoted a source from FRMF who confirmed that Morocco’s request has still not been answered.

The source added, however, “We don’t want to rush things. We are showing patience and awaiting the response from the Algerian authorities.” Other converging reports claimed today that Algeria has “officially” refused Morocco’s request.

This would come as no surprise a senior member of Algeria’s organizing committee for CHAN claimed last week that responding to Morocco’s request does not fall under the purview of the host country. 

Algeria is “not responsible for ensuring the availability of a direct route for the participating teams,” Rachid Oukali, the head of the CHAN organizing committee, said last week after reports first emerged of Morocco’s demand that its team be allowed to directly fly to Algeria. 

“Most of the African countries that will come to Algeria will do stopovers,” claimed the Algerian official.

In response, FMRF’s president, Fouzi Lekjaa, maintained Morocco’s request for permission for a special Royal Air Maroc flight to take the Moroccan national team to the Algerian city where they are scheduled to play.

“The official airline for Morocco is Royal Air Maroc. We have asked for permission to allow Royal Air Maroc to transport the national team directly to the host country. We have not asked Algeria to provide us with a private flight or anything of that sort,” he stressed.

Political Context

This comes on the heels of tense relations between Algeria and Morocco after the Algerian government announced in August 2021 its decision to cut diplomatic ties with Morocco. 

While Morocco has repeatedly tried to de-escalate the tensions and called for “brotherly dialogue” to preserve regional stability, the Algerian government has characteristically chosen to ignore Morocco’s peace offers. 

Instead, many observers have argued in recent months, a diplomatically cornered and economically underperforming Algerian regime has made hostilities towards Morocco a rallying cry. 

The strategy appears to be to portray Morocco as an existential threat to Algerian interests and Algeria’s stability. Last week, Algeria’s president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune Tebboune, tellingly said in an interview that his government cut ties with Morocco “to avoid going to war.”

Source : WorldMarrocoNews