The 24th ACP/EU Joint Assembly
The Joint Assembly of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries with the European Union adopted a resolution criticising Morocco for obstructing the preparation for a referendum on self-determination for the Western Sahara. The resolution requests Morocco to resume direct talks with the Polisario Front and to comply with international resolutions on the organisation of the referendum, and to stop hindering the preparation and organisation of the referendum. The European Union is invited to take into account the interests of the Sahrawi people in the agreements that it signs with Morocco and to provide its cooperation and emergency aid to this people.
"Open letter to the French"
The Polisario Front has urged France to act as a "mediator" in its conflict with Morocco, in a letter to the main French officials made public on 21st March. The Polisario believes France is the "ideal mediator" because of its "position as a privileged interlocutor of the countries in the region" in this "Open letter to the French" signed by its representative in France, Fadel Ismail. "Only a commitment to a true peace dynamic between Morocco and the Polisario Front can prevent the worst." "Now, such a dialogue cannot take place without foreign support." In his letter, Fadel Ismail explains that "the Sahrawi people's exasperation has reached a peak" with the peace process being deadlocked because of Morocco. "A spark would suffice to inflame the region, which is a real time bomb. This spark may well mean the resumption of the war in Western Sahara," the Polisario warns. ( full text french )
Benin suspends recognition of SADR
The Governement of the Republic of Benin, which recognized SADR on March 11th 19976, decided to suspend its recognition.
Morocco and the nomination of James Baker
The prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, Abdellatif Filali, said in two messages to the UN secretary-general and the chairman of the UN Security Council that Morocco welcomed James Baker's appointment as the UN secretary-general's personal envoy in the Western Sahara issue to evaluate the situation and study the possibilities of facilitating the implementation of the plan and to make recommendations.
The UN conference on human rights held in Geneva revealed the worsening of conditions in the Western Sahara, following the daily repression imposed on the Sahrawi people by the Moroccan military and administrative authorities. This was confirmed by two Moroccan human rights organizations in front of scores of organizations meeting in Geneva on the occasion of the UN conference on human rights. The contributors agreed that the worsening of the Sahrawi people's conditions had reached a level which evoked concern, on account of the repressive policy adopted by the Moroccan authorities in their daily dealings with those Sahrawi people held in prison or in other confinement, as well as with the Sahrawi public in general. The two Moroccan human rights organizations stressed the blatant violations of individual and mass rights and the use of various pressures and torture to repress the Sahrawi people indiscriminately.
A Sahrawi witness, present in Geneva, spoke of the atrocious torture to which he had been subjected for 16 years in Moroccan prison cells. The prisoner, who eventually escaped, said that 58 Sahrawi prisoners had died because of the daily horrendous torture to which they were subjected.
Morocco's parliament unanimously adopted a draft law to set up elected councils in 16 regions, including the disputed Western Sahara, to give people a voice in daily economic management.
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