NEWS JUNE TO AUGUST 1995
27 AUGUST 95: POLISARIO Ninth Congress
Polisario's ninth congress met from 19.8. to 26.8. at its main base in the Tindouf region of southwest Algeria. The ninth congress has reasserted its desire to continue with the peace process. A new leadership was elected. Veteran leader Mohamed Abdelaziz was re-elected as its head for four more years. The main recommendation was to settle the conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco by peaceful means, and to appeal to the international community to ensure that Morocco respects the UN-OAU peace plan.
The final communique of the congress
Firstly, the Polisario Front reasserts its desire to continue with a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the region, in line with the UN plan. However, the international community must take the right steps, and above all face up to its responsibilities. An appeal was made to this end. Getting Morocco to improve its behaviour is an essential prerequisite: more than 600 Moroccan cease-fire violations have been registered so far, and tens of thousands of Moroccans have been transferred to the Western Sahara with the aim of making the UN peace process fail.
Secondly, the Moroccan gamble to try to take advantage of the regional situation was already lost before it was made: instead of being changed, positions of principle were reaffirmed. The attendance of a large Algerian ministerial delegation at the opening of the congress is a perfect illustration of this. The recognition of the SADR, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, by South Africa and Malawi, is another tangible proof.
Thirdly, and lastly, the Saharan people have to prepare themselves for every eventuality. The failure of the peace process is still a possibility. The military effort must be maintained. A resolution to this effect was signed, stipulating among other things, the need to support the Saharan population in the occupied territories. The new leadership of the Polisario Front has been mandated by the congress to take whatever decisions are made necessary by the development of the situation nationally, regionally and internationally.
The Saharan president, Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz, has stressed that the new Saharan leadership will seek to carry out the resolutions taken by the ninth congress of the Polisario Front, which shows the relationship between the Polisario Front and the Saharan people. Delivering the final speech to the participants, Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz said that the ninth congress of the Polisario Front was considered as one of the most important Saharan national events crowned with success. He blamed Morocco for obstructing the UN sponsored peace process, which consists in organizing a referendum in the Western Sahara, and he expressed the hope that there would not be a return to war with Morocco. In conclusion, Mr Abdelaziz called on the Saharan people to ensure that their names were registered in electoral lists in preparation for the referendum due to be held next year.
17 AUGUST 95: Diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Sahrawi Republic
A press release of the SADR Ministry of Information quoted a letter of President Nelson Mandela to President Mohamed Abdelaziz, in which the South African President wrote in June:"With a view to consolidating the relationship and deepening the friendship between our peoples I have issued instructions for steps to be taken immediately to establish diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Sahrawi Republic."
4 AUGUST 95: Yet more voters to register !
According to recent declarations of the Moroccan Interior Minister Driss Basri Morocco has handed to United Nations lists of 271'000 "potentially eligible" Western Saharans. The Minister said, 40 voter identification offices would be opened next week in Western Sahara, and 27 in the Moroccan cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh and Agadir, others in Moroccan embassies abroad.
At present there are 12 identification offices under U.N. control, and 48'000 Western Saharans had been registered to vote since the process began 2 years ago.
The U.N. Peace Plan is based on the Spanish census of 1974, which includes 74'000 Western Saharans. The Polisario Front accuses Morocco of trying to rig the poll by flooding electoral lists.
4 AUGUST 95: Delay of SADR Recognition by South Africa
David Beresford, in The Guardian ( Johannesburg), reveals that the Polisario Front has complained to the parliamentary foreign affairs committee about delays after President Nelson Mandela's promise to grant diplomatic recognition to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. There is suspicion that the delays are due to pressure on Thabo Mbeki, Mr Mandela's deputy and heir-apparent, from the Moroccan government - which is believed to have made substantial donations to African National Congress funds.
18 JULY 95: The Fifth Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations approved $50 million for the United Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for the period 1 December 1994 to 30 September 1995.
15 JULY 95: MANIFESTATIONS IN SPAIN
Manifestations took place in some spanish cities, so in Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona and Sevilla, organized by the Association of the Friends of the Saharawi People. In Madrid some 200 people came together in front of the Moroccan embassy. The manifestants protested against the Moroccan repression toward the civilian population in Western Sahara.
13 JULY 95: POLISARIO ACCUSES FRANCE OF PARTIALITY TOWARDS MOROCCO
On the occasion of the first african tour of the french president, who will visit Morocco from 19th to 21st July, the POLISARIO Front has accused France of partiality towards Rabat.
13 JULY 95 : RESOLUTION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
The European Parliament, in a resolution, calls for the unconditional release of the eight saharawi students, who were recently sentenced, and on the Moroccan government to respect international human rights conventions. The resolution also calls on EU representatives to put pressure on Morocco to comply with the UN peace plan for Western Sahara.
13 JULY 95 : POLISARIO TO RESUME PARTICIPATION IN VOTERS COUNT
The Polisario Front has decided to resume participation in the U.N.-backed peace process in Western Sahara.
The front said it changed its mind after the U.N. Security Council renewed on June 30 the mandate of the U.N. mission in the Sahara and Polisario received the backing of several African countries to its demand for a firm action to salvage the plan.
"In this spirit the Polisario Front has decided to carry on with its participation in the identifiacation commission works. The Polisario decision requires that the United Nations confirm its authority over the territory and take up entirely all its responsibilities entrusted by the Plan settlement and especially the borders of the territory and the transparency during all the stages of the process".
9 JULY 95: MOROCCAN KING CUTS SENTENCES OF SAHARAWI YOUTHS
Moroccan King Hassan has ordered that the prison
sentences of eight Saharawi students, jailed for up to 20 years, be
reduced to one year . The king acted after receiving a plea from the parents of the youths. The sentencing of the students for taking part in a
demonstration last May in support of the Polisario Front had drawn
criticism from the United States and human rights groups in Morocco. It
also led to Polisario Front deciding to suspend its participation in
preparations for a referendum in the Western Sahara. The students, all in their 20s, were sentenced by
a military court on June 21 on charges of threatening state security. They
denied being members of the Polisario Front. The Moroccan human rights
minister told the U.S. ambassador, who expressed his government's surprise
over the sentences, that the military court had been incompetent and that
the supreme court was likely to reverse the verdicts.
4 JULY 95: MOROCCO: HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION CRITICIZES SENTENCES
HANDED DOWN TO SAHARAWIS
The sentences handed down to the eight young
Saharawis are particularly harsh and are totally out of proportion with the charges
laid against them: that is what the OMDH, the Moroccan Organization of Human
Rights, says in a communique released 4 July. The
OMDH requests that the Supreme Court, with which an appeal
has been lodged, should take a stance on this appeal quickly and make an independent
ruling in accordance with the law.
See also previous
manifestations and Rabat process
29 JUNE 95: MANIFESTATIONS IN EL AYOUN
In a statement the Saharawi Information Ministry pointed out that in many quarters of the occupied Western Sahara capital, El-Ayoun, flags of the SADR were unfurled on 29 June. The Moroccan occupation authorities carried out, as usual,
a series of arrests, particularly among the ranks of youths. The statement
mentioned that this fierce campaign came one week after the Rabat authorities
had unjustly sentenced eight Saharans for taking part in a peaceful demonstration demanding the release of political prisoners, and the strict implementation of the settlement plan in Western Sahara.
Sources: Ministery of Information of SADR, International News Agencies,.....
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