[The next News - weeks 31/32 - will appear on 13.08.00]
In El Ayoun, a Moroccan military patrol opened fire on a group of young Saharawis, seriously wounding two people. (Polisario Front representation in Madrid). Same scenario at Smara, where a Moroccan soldier fired from his vehicle on a group of Saharawis. Units of the Moroccan army destroyed wells in Guelta Zemmour and Boujdour, these wells were used to water herds of animals. (Saharawi National Radio, 16.07.00)
Report of the UN Secretary General S/2000/683, 12.07.00 - Reactions
In a letter to the Security Council, Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario representative in New York, rejected any solution other than the referendum: "Any other approach, which involves deciding in place of the Saharawi people (...) compromises their inalienable right to self-determination". (SPS, 14.07.00)
In an interview with the daily London Arabic paper, "Al Hayat", the Saharawi president strongly criticised Kofi Annan's latest report, which presents the settlement plan as impossible, and suggests the parties should look for a political solution. This report, he added, "does not reflect clearly the position of the Polisario Front" and confuses the responsibility of the two parties. On the other hand, Mohamed Abdelaziz continued, the Polisario Front "rejects categorically any kind of third way". "If UN settlement plan fails (...), we will try by every possible means to arrive at our goal, total freedom and independence". Concerning the meeting of experts due in Geneva, the Saharawi president wondered if the UN was not manoeuvring to gain time to the advantage of Morocco, to the detriment of the Saharawi people. (SPS 17.07.00)
"Nobody has mandated Kofi Annan to search for another solution to the conflict between the Saharawi people and the Moroccan regime", the Saharawi minister for Foreign Affairs stated during a press conference in Algiers. Mr Ould Salek said that Kofi Annan should be seeing that the peace plan is implemented. In Ould Salek's view, the "third way" is a "conspiracy to confiscate from the Saharawi people their legitimate right to self-determination. This conspiracy aims to put the peace plan in a fatal impasse and to substitute for it a totally fabricated solution called the "third way". Those pushing such solutions, he warned, "carry the entire reponsibility for the return to hostilities and the instability of the region". (Saharawi Ministry of Information 18.07.00)
For Morocco there is only one way: the Sahara is Moroccan and it will stay that way (L'Opinion, 16.07.00). Al Bayane calls the wish of James Baker to propose an alternative solution to the referendum "disconcerting". This daily newspaper can't see how Morocco could negotiate its sovereignty.
In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Morocco's permanent representative at the UN has made it known that the latest report does not reflect Morocco's point of view concerning the identification process. Morocco is demanding that 7,000 applications, rejected by the commission during the revision of voters, should be considered as valid. (Moroccan press 18.07.00)
The peace process under way in the Middle-East and in Western Sahara "should be openly, faithfully and honestly carried out, in conformity with the agreements reached and the UN's resolutions", the Algerian President stated during a dinner given in honour of the President of the Spanish government, during his official visit of Algeria. "The building of the Euro-Mediterranean edifice on solid and lasting foundations will remain incomplete, even uncertain, unless there is a free and transparent referendum in Western Sahara", he added. (aps,17.07.00)
The International Federation of the Leagues of Human Rights, FIDH, notes, following a mission to Morocco at the end of June, that the number of disappeared in the course of the conflict in Western Sahara has risen to nearly 1500 people. "Testimonies collected in Laayoun (...) testify to a significant phenomenon of forced disappearances and violation of human rights and fundamental liberties (...) concerning the civilian population". The FIDH recognises the persistence of a repressive process in Western Sahara. It keenly regrets the silence of the Saharawi authorities in response to its request to go to Tindouf. Communiqué FIDH french
The King of Morocco sent representatives to many current members of the Security Council. The British Prime Minister received the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who also went to Paris. Benaïssa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, went to Washington, El Yazghi, Minister in charge of regional development in the Territory went to Peking, while Loulichki, coordinator with MINURSO, went to Moscow. (Moroccan press).
Technical Meeting in Geneva
Indirect talks took place over two days in Geneva, presided over by William Eagleton, Special Representative for the Sahara, accompanied by John Bolton, James Baker's deputy, and Eduardo Vetere, chair of the Identification Commission. The Saharawi and Moroccan delegations were led by the respective coordinators with MINURSO, Mhamed Khaddad and Mohamed Loulichki.
The questions of repatriation of the refugees and confidence-building measures, as well as those of prisoners of war and political detainees, were studied in the presence of representatives of UNHCR and the ICRC. The organisation of a pilot experience of visits between the refugee camps and the occupied territories during the month of August was accepted by the Polisario Front, while the Moroccan delegation had to wait for instructions from Rabat in order to respond. Morocco should make its position known by 28 July.
The second day was to be devoted to the appeals. The Moroccan delegation refused to enter the room, declaring not to be entitled to discuss that matter, even though the agenda had been sent to the parties in advance. The meeting demonstrated, according to Mhamed Khaddad, "Morocco's lack of cooperation and seriousness (...) taking up again the politics of the empty chair".(agencies)
In Algiers, the deputy Secretary of State, Ronald Neumann, in charge of the North African and Middle East desk in the State Department, met the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador of SADR in Algeria for nearly two hours. In an interview in the Algerian daily paper, Le Matin, the Saharawi Ambassador in Algeria stated: "We let him know our dissatisfaction with the attempts to derail the peace plan, and all the speculations going on about a change in the American position. Neumann says that the United States remain committed to the UN-OAU peace plan and the organisation of a referendum. He also said that nobody can impose on the Polisario Front something it refuses."
Nicaragua has decided to freeze its recognition of SADR so long as there are no definitive results from the referendum in the Sahara, the Nicaraguan Vice-President, Mr Enrique Bolanos Geyer, announced in Rabat, on the eve of his official visit of Morocco. (Moroccan press)
A delegation of the Polisario Front, led by Mr Ould Salek, Minister of Foreign Affairs, took part in the 35th congress of the Socialist and Workers' Party (PSOE) in Madrid. They received a warm welcome from the participants when they walked into the congress hall. (SPS).
Security Council Resolution S/RES/1309 (2000)
The Council unanimously adopted resolution 1309 extending the mandate of MINURSO until 31 October. The Council reiterates "full support for the continued efforts exerted by the MINURSO to implement the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties to hold a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara" and "expects that the parties will meet in direct talks under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to try to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and to try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara".
Paraguay confirmed its decision to freeze its relations with the SADR, which Asunción recognized on February 9th 2000, declared the minister of Foreign Relations of Paraguay, Mr. Juan Esteban Aguirre, on official visit to Morocco. (Moroccan press)
NEW ON INTERNET
and daughters of the clouds - Söhne und Töchter der Wolken
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a website dedicated by Austrian friends to the Saharawi children on holidays in Europe, with a Forum for discussions between children and their hosts in the different countries (German, English and Spanish).
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