WEEKS 23-24 : 30.05. - 12.06.2004
Spring session of the Saharawi Parliament
The parliament organised on 31 May a "platform of solidarity" with the Saharawi population in the occupied territory. Saharawi activists from the occupied territory discussed live with parliamentarians and replied to questions relating to the situation of Saharawi citizens living under Moroccan occupation since 1975. The parliament nominated two representatives to the Saharawi Constitutional Council (specialised legal body). This new body, composed of five members, was set up on 12 June, in accordance with a new Constitution agreed at the last Congress. (SPS)
A South African delegation made up of representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Development, Cooperation and Health paid an official visit to the Saharawi refugee camps. (SPS)
Mohamed Abdelaziz sent a message to George W. Bush, to express the Saharawi attitude to the recognition of Morocco as a major non-NATO ally of the USA. He exhorted them to convince Morocco to submit to international law. (SPS)
Lehbib Breica, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of SADR for Ethiopia and the AU, presented his credentials to the Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and to the President of the African Union Alpha Omar Conaré.
Zahra Ramdan, NUSW (National Union of Saharawi Women) officer for external relations, took part in an electoral meeting of the Madrid PSOE, along with representatives of women's organisations from Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and the President of women artists against gender violence, Cristina del Valle.
The Saharawi government wrote to the two companies involved recently in oil reconnaissance in Western Sahara, Wessex and Fugro. (letters)
Morocco asked for the cooperation of Spain in research on its marine resources. The Spanish oceanographic ship Vizconde de Eza will undertake, from 14 November until 13 December next, oceanographic prospecting work in Moroccan deep waters. Other agreements have been signed concerning training in the fishing sector.
Major diplomatic manoeuvres
Morocco "is indulging in a veritable diplomatic ballet through which it attempts to sow confusion and obfuscation about the Algerian position", declared Mohamed Sidati, Minister Counsellor and Polisario Front representative at the European Union, speaking about the visit of the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Benaïssa on 29 May to Algiers. The latter gave a verbal message from the Moroccan sovereign to the Algerian President Bouteflika.
After the failure of its attempt to bring together a four-sided conference with Morocco, Algeria and Spain, the French government continues to put pressure on Algeria, in order to turn the Saharawi question into an Algerian-Moroccan problem and to impose the solution of autonomy. Thus the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michel Barnier, affirmed, in an interview with MAP on the eve of his official visit to Morocco, that "a rapprochement between Algiers and Rabat is necessary, in our eyes, to settle the question of the Sahara, "which impedes the integration of the Maghreb and therefore the future of the people of the region and their relations with Europe". "The solution of a broad-based autonomy for the territory should be studied in an imaginative and constructive manner for all", he added. Barnier travelled to Morocco with, according the Spanish daily La Razon, a mandate from Chirac to favour a "French solution" to the Saharan conflict, a solution which would counter the Spanish initiative of "wide agreement between the parties".
A high-ranking Spanish government delegation, consisting of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Bernardino León Gross, the secretary general for Foreign Policy, Rafael Dezcallar, the director general of the Department of Cooperation with Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, Ricardo Martínez, and the deputy director for the Maghreb, Carlos Fernández-Arias travelled to the refugee camps to meet Mohamed Abdelaziz and the Polisario Front leadership. The talks between the two parties, which took place in camera, were "frank and constructive", according to the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek. The Spanish party reaffirmed "the attachment of Spain to international law within the context of the United Nations", it was emphasised.
This is the first visit of Spanish government officials to the Saharawi camps and the first official high-level meeting with Polisario Front leadership.
The Moroccan authorities had been warned about it, which accounts for the absence of any protests from Rabat.
The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Benaïssa, carried out an official visit to Madrid. In a joint declaration at the end of the visit, "the two parties reiterated their desire to look for a just, consensual and lasting political solution to the question of Western Sahara, negotiated by all the parties concerned, within the context of international law and the efforts of the United Nations."
The personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Western Sahara, James A. Baker III, resigned. It is the special representative for Western Sahara, Alvaro de Soto, who will take on Baker's mission.
Appointed in 1997 by Kofi Annan to get the peace plan out of an impasse, the former US Secretary of State had as his mission to reexamine the situation, to evaluate the how the settlement plan could be implemented and to examine the possibility of alterations to the plan, even to propose "other possible means" of resolving the conflict.(weekly news 12/1997)
His efforts resulted in 1997 with the Houston Agreement(, then with protocols for agreements on identification, which allowed the resumption and finalising of the process of designating electors at the beginning of 2000. In June 2001 he presented the draft Framework Agreement, called the Baker Plan I which were re-worked before being submitted in May 2003 to the parties under the title of Peace plan for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, or Baker Plan II.
The latter, accepted in July 2003, by the Polisario Front as a basis for discussion, and rejected by Morocco nearly a year later, was ratified by the Security Council in its resolution S/RES/1541 du Conseil de sécurité du 29.04.04. >> Bye Baker, background on WS Online >> dossier referendum
For the Saharawi government, "this event represents undoubtedly a serious setback in the effort expended by the UN over recent years to resolve the last problem of decolonisation in Africa in a peaceful and just manner".(Declaration of SADR Ministry of Foreign Affairs. )
The representative of the Polisario Front in Spain, Brahim Gali, interpreted the resignation of Baker as a protest against "the intransigent position of Morocco" and "the lack of firmness and the weakness of the Security Council to impose its resolutions, in particular number 1495 of July 2003". (EUROPA PRESS)
Morocco regrets officially the resignation of Baker. For Mohamed Benaïssa, Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, scarcely hiding his relief, the resignation of Baker is the result of the tenacity of cherifian diplomacy.
The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs greets the efforts of James Baker for peace "in accordance with international law".
The Madrid daily, La Razon sees in this resignation one step further in the policy of the Bush government of rapprochement with Morocco. After having recognised Morocco as a major non-NATO ally and announced joint military manoeuvres off-shore from the Sahara, the way will be open for the USA to join in the Franco-Moroccan "negotiated political solution" respecting Morocco's sovereignty.
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Miguel Angel Moratinos, on an official visit of Tunisia on 12.06.04, did not comment on the resignation, he affirmed that all the countries were working to find a solution to the question of the Sahara within the context of the UN.
The United States have conferred the status on Morocco of "major non-NATO ally" for its support in the fight against terrorism. This status in particular permits the lifting of restrictions on the sale of armaments. Argentina, Australia, Bahrein, South Korea, Egypt, Israël, Japan, Jordan, Kuweit, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand benefit from this privileged ally status. (AFP)
Meanwhile, a journey to Washington for the king of Morocco has been announced at a date yet to be determined.
Military manoeuvres involving navy and air force called "Majestic Eagle 04" will take place from 10 to 17 July in the Moroccan waters opposite the Canaries, between Casablanca and Agadir.
Independence movement tracts
The inhabitants of Guelimin were surprised to discover that all the signs of the moussem of Asrir, which the Aït Lahsen tribes have the custom of organising, had been burnt by persons unknown, who had left instead tracts calling for "separatism". This is the first demonstration of the kind in the region for at least twenty years. (Al-Ousbou, Maroc)
During a "technical" reshuffle of the government, the Ministry of Human Rights was abolished.
The king of Morocco will carry out a tour of five sub-Saharan African countries from 15 to 25 June. This tour, which aims to reaffirm Morocco's "African vocation", will take the monarch from Cotonou (Benin) to Yaoundé (Cameroon), Libreville (Gabon) and Niamey (Niger) to finish in Dakar (Senegal).
The Liberal party asks the government what action it has undertaken to forward peace in Western Sahara, in particular if the government has sought the support of France and Spain for a referendum and the peace process.
AFAPREDESA inaugurated in the refugee camps the Marguerite Emery Centre for information and promotion of human rights in Western Sahara. (communiqué AFAPREDESA, french+ spanish )
Two Saharawi human rights activists were arrested arbitrarily in Casablanca and Rabat. Mohamed Cheikh Elmoutaouakil and Banbaya Mohamed Khalili said to have figured on a search warrant concerning an inquiry into a Polisario Front network which had led to the arrest in 1999, 2000 and 2002 of five Saharawi activists. After three hours of interrogation, they were released and the proceedings "annulled'.
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that the government will double its humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugees. The same declaration from the Canaries Office for the Exterior, states that over 30% of the aid destined for Africa goes to the Saharawi people.
2ª Conferencia Internacional sobre la Información en el Sahara , en TOLEDO 27-30.06.04: Conclusiones
con el 5º Galardón del Bajoaragonés del
l galardón de este año ha sido concedido a la candidatura de Acción Solidaria con el Pueblo Saharaui (ASAPS), asociación solidaria con el pueblo saharaui en la provincia de Teruel, en reconocimiento a su labor de apoyo a los refugiados Saharauís.
Jo Sóc de Mahbes (Yo soy de Mahbes ), video de Toni Cuadras, Producción: ACAPS-ANOIA / Ajuntament de Igualada / Ultimo Round P.A Catalunya, 2003. Duración: 25 minutos. El vídeo se puede solicitar a: Associació Catalana d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí - ANOIA, Isabel Orgué 93.803.91.05 / 626.119.643, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sebastián, los días 24 y 25 de junio de 2004
ENCUENTRO ESTATAL DE INSTITUCIONES HERMANADAS Y/O SOLIDARIAS CON EL PUEBLO SAHARAUI.
Documents (PDF / BIRDHSO)
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages
aux éditions Tarik, Casablanca, relatifs aux victimes de
«L'opération Borak F5 et les révélations sur l'affaire du Boeing (16 Août 1972)», Ahmed El Ouafi.
«Kabazal, les emmurés de Tazmamart», Abdelhak Serhane, mémoires de Salah et Aïcha Hachad.
Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages
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