International Lawyers' Conference on Western Sahara
On the initiative of the International Association of Lawyers for Western Sahara, the European Coordination of Committees supporting the Saharawi People and the French Association of Friends of SADR (AARASD) and at the invitation of Mr Daniel Paul, deputy and president of the study group on Western Sahara in the French National Assembly, this colloquium brought together specialists from various countries to study legal aspects of the prevailing situation in Western Sahara.
Among the aspects raised: the right to self-determination in the context of international law; the role of the UN and the measures necessary for the realisation of the peace plan; respect for human rights and the protection of the population under occupation; the safeguarding of the natural resources of Western Sahara. Parallels were drawn with the decolonisation of Namibia and East Timor.
In conclusion, the lawyers rejected any solution other than the referendum. They called on the United Nations and every country, notably the USA, France and Spain, to take action to get out of the present impasse. They demanded the opening of the territory on the ground, in the airspace and by the coast to observers, for NGOs, the press as well as stopping the exploitation of the wealth of Western Sahara. A manifesto will be given to Kofi Annan and the secretary general of the OAU and steps were undertaken on a European level.
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Moroccan Prime Minister official visit to France
On the occasion of the visit of the Moroccan Prime Minister to France, the French Association of Friends of SADR issued a press release, in which it expresses its hope that France will lead the Moroccan kingdom back to the way of international law and that it will take account of the urgent necessity of a strict return to the Peace Plan and take up its implementation, so that the referendum on self-determination can be held as quickly as possible.
The French Foreign Minister, in an interview to the Moroccan daily Liberation, declared himself in favour of a wide autonomy for Western Sahara. "This solution, one can only hope for it, encourage it and rejoice the day it comes about", he affirmed.
For his part, President Chirac declared that the "Saharan dossier is going in the right direction".
During a press conference the Moroccan Prime Minister Youssoufi indicated that "concerning the affair of the Sahara, there has been progress". According to him, "since last September, Morocco announced solemnly its willingness to undertake a direct dialogue with the other party to reach a political solution within the territorial unity of Morocco and Moroccan sovereignty over the whole of Moroccan territory". "Morocco has made known its will to bring about this solution and we are waiting for a reaction to our proposals", he added. For his part, Lionel Jospin reiterated his support for the efforts of the UN Secretary General and James Baker to get out of the impasse.
1 May Demonstration in El Ayoun
Strong pressure was put on the unions to prevent Saharawi human rights organisations taking part in the demonstration. Members of the two NGOs, Forum Vérité et Justice, section Sahara, and Coordination committee of Saharawi victims of forced disappearance, joined the demonstration brandishing banners and portraits of the disappeared and of political detainees, which brought about the intervention of police forces and security agents, who encircled the group who couldn't march but remained in place in a sit-in for over 2 hours. They held photos and posters on which one could read: 'Truth on the fate of Saharawi disappeared', 'Liberation of all political detainees, Mohamed Daddach first', 'Restitution of the bodies of the deceased to the families'. 'Sentences for Moroccans responsible', 'Crimes against humanity committed in the Sahara will be neither forgotten nor pardoned'.
Meeting for its second ordinary session, the Saharawi Consultative Council, made up of notables, experts in the identification of Saharawi tribes, sent letters to the UN SG, to the president of the Security Council, to the presidency of the EU and its foreign affairs spokesperson as well as to the American President, to ask them to make Morocco respect international law by permitting the organisation of the referendum on self-determination of the Saharawi people. It called on the United Nations to start the appeals process immediately, assuring them of their collaboration. The Consultative Council proceeded to the election of a new president, Mr Moulaye Beibat, and of five deputies to represent it on the National Council (Parliament).
José Ramos-Horta, Vice-President of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance and in charge of foreign relations, arriving in the Saharawi refugee camps, declared that he had come "to bear witness to the solidarity and support of his government to the cause of the Saharawi people". He announced that he was the bearer of a message from the President of the CNRT, Xanana Gusmao to the President Mohamed Abdelaziz.
01.05.01, Tlemcen, Algeria: the Saharawi cultural caravan, during its stay in Tlemcen, displayed in the Abdelkader Alloula Museum of Culture, its exhibition of photos, objects and documents illustrating Saharawi customs, traditions and heritage. On the occasion of this exhibition, a conference took place at the Abou Bakr Belkaid University by Professor Hamdi Yahia, a UN observer, on the subject of the peace plan. The cultural caravan of solidarity with the Saharawi people left Tlemcen after three days for Oran. (SPS)
04.05.01, Algiers: The first
national meeting of the Committees of support for the Saharawi people
took place in the presence of, among others, the Nobel Peace Prize
winner, José Ramos-Horta and Margot Kessler, president of the
European Parliament Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People". Mr
Ramos Horta declared that "there is no other alternative to the
referendum in Western Sahara", explaining that Western Sahara could
play an important role for regional stability.
Mrs Kessler underlined the crucial role of the European Union in the Western Sahara conflict - first of all because certain European countries give underhand support to the fait accompli of Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara, and because of the economic links between Europe and the Maghreb are crucial for the region. She expressed the hope that her presence would contribute to strengthen dialogue and joint efforts of all those who in Algeria and in Europe are concerned to see a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, a solution in accordance with international law and the legitimate aspirations of the Saharawi people to independence and freedom.
17-19.06.01, in the Saharawi refugee camps, the sixth general assembly of AFAPREDESA.
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