ICRC visits Moroccan POWs (27.03.97)
From 17 to 23 March a team of four delegates of the ICRC visited 805 Moroccan POWs still in the hands of the Polisario Front. This was the sixth time since 1993 that the ICRC had visited this group of prisoners. An agreement between the ICRC and the Polisario Front calls for an other visit to take place in November 1997 to allow the 1,100 prisoners not seen during this visit to benefit also of the ICRC's protection and humanitarian services.
No negociations on autonomy (16.05.97)
According to the weekly Financial Times Morocco refuses to discuss about any autonomy status for Western Sahara as a compromise solution. For Minister of Interior Driss Basri there would be "neither an extended, nor a medium nor a small autonomy" for Western Sahara. "There are no negociations on autonomy, the referendum is about integration or independance". Mr Basri said, issues of autonomy are internal matter and could only be decided by Morocco rather than subject to negociations with any other party. Concluding that the UN's job is to find the ways to overcome the obstacles of the referendum.
24th anniversary of the Polisario Front and of the liberation struggle.
The ceremonies began at 9 a.m. in all wilayas in presence of delegations of the government, the authorities of the wilaya and foreign guests. The main ceremony took place at Dakhla in presence of the SADR President. Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz presented in his speach the last developments of the peace plan and insisted on the Sahrawi position which is to collaborate with the U.N. in order to reach a fair and free referendum.
The SADR President addresses a letter to Laurent-Desire Kabila in which he says that his victory is important, " putting an end to a contemptible dictatorship", adding that it "opens a new area for all African countries having suffered humiliations by bloodthirsty political alliances and solidarity between dictatorial regimes". He exprime finally his hope of a strengthening of the relations between the Polisario Front and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Spanish Minister of Defence reaches Rabat for a visit which aims to "dynamize the Spanish-Moroccan cooperation in defense matter".
The Spanish writer and journalist Rosa Montero appeals in El Pais for support to a humanitarian caravan leaving Madrid at the end of May and asks to put pressure on the Spanish government.
Security Council extends the mandate of the MINURSO, Resolution 1108, 1997
The Security Council decides to extend the mandate of the MINURSO until 30 September. It also requests the Secretary General to report to it on all aspects of the Western Sahara issue by 15 September. By its unanimous adoption of resolution 1108 (1997), the Council reiterated its commitment to the holding of a referendum for the self- determination of the people of Western Sahara in accordance with the Settlement Plan accepted by the parties. Also by today's resolution, the Council urged the parties to continue cooperation with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General James A. Baker III and to demonstrate the political will to overcome the persisting stalemate.
In a press release made after the decision of the Security Council , the permanent U.N. Representative of the USA, Bill Richardson, underlines that James Baker's mission could be the most important but the least hope for a solution of the Western Sahara conflict. Morocco and the Polisario have to show the needed flexibitity and political will, if they want the United States to continue their support of MINURSO in its actual formula.
The dethroned dictator Mobutu arrives at Rabat, where he will stay for some days, before travelling to another destination, announces a communique of the Moroccan Ministry of Communications. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced just before that Morocco recognizes the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the news agency EFE, Morocco has some apprehension the new authorities of Congo could change the pro-Moroccan positions of the former regime (Zaïre was one of the principal African supporter of the Moroccan policy about Western Sahara).
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