52th session of UN General Assembly
Opening the 52th Assembly the Secretary General Kofi Annan declared : "Since assuming office in January, I have taken initiatives intended to begin, or revive, peace processes in several conflict situations (...)". He added that former United States Secretary of State, James Baker, he named as Special envoy for Western Sahara, is on the verge of producing a breakthrough in the effort to carry out a referendum on that territory's future.
The Secretary-General has also discussed with President Clinton on Western Sahara, Congo-Kinshasa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti and Afghanistan.
Contacts Spain - SADR
Mr Abel Matutes Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs meets in New York Mr Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, Minister Councelor of the Saharawi Presidence. He reaffirms the Spanish support to the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara. The Saharawi responsible, on his side, declares that the direct talks between Morocco and the Polisario were the best and most positive way. "Without them nothing would happen". The Saharawi Minister meets also Mr Kofi Annan and other UN responsibles.
The Report of the Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, S/1997/742 ( full text)
In his introduction Mr Annan underlines that neither party had indicated any willingness to pursue any political solution other than implementation of the settlement plan. He exposes the details of the mission of his Special Envoy and the content of the agreements reached in the different discussion rounds. He takes stock of the actual situation in the region. Aboutf the provisory lists of Saharawi political prisoners and detainees which have been given to the Moroccans on Sept. 9th, the Moroccan responsibles have identified only one name ( It seems to be Mohamed Daddach according to the description,ARSO), all others were declared dead, unknown, had joined the F. Polisario, have been released or amnestied.
The agreements of Houston create the conditions to proceed towards the full implementation of the settlement plan, starting with the resumption of the identification process. Mr Annan proposes to send at the beginning of October a technical staff in the region in order to prepare the resumption of the voter identification. The Minurso should rapidely be provided with the needed human and financial ressources. By the end of the identification process the list of persons judged eligible to vote would be published, and the transition period could begin shortly thereafter, upon completion of other steps required by D-day in accordance to the settlement plan. On the basis of the original timetable the referendum of self-determination would thus be held within a year.
The Secretary General recommands to the Security Council that the mandate of the MINURSO will be extended for three weeks untill October 20 1997, and that it will be extended thereafter for a period of six months until April 20 1998. The S.G. will submit a comprehensive report in November including a detailed plan, timetable and financial implications for the holding of the referendum.
Morocco will accept the results of a referendum in Western Sahara
The Moroccan Minister of Interior Driss Basri affirms in Paris that Morocco will accept the results of a referendum about the future of Western Sahara also if they are aginst the integration of the former Spanish territory to Morocco. "It is the first concern (of King Hassan II) to respect international legality. If by accident the people of W.S. would choice independence, Morocco will respect this decision. It will be the first country to open an embassy there", he added.
James Baker at Security Council
In a confidential session the Special Envoy for Western Sahara informed the S.C. members about his mission. He declared to journalists that the number of voters of 80'000 is only an estimation, which does not limit the number of candidates to identification. The definitive number could be more important. He aded: the situation is hopefull but also precarious. Now we have to hurry up. Mr Baker's mission is finished, but he stays at disposal of the U.N. if necessary he said.
International Conference of Support to the Peace Plan for Western Sahara
More than 200 guests, among them Peace Nobel Prize winner Ramos Horta, Frank Ruddy, former US Ambassador, and members of Parliaments of different countries, politicians of different parties and NGO delegates, participate to this Conference in the refugee camps near Tindouf. In his opening speach Mr Bachir Mustafa Sayed ( full text spanish) linked to some aspects of the agreements, like a lack of precision and of sufficiant warranties for the application, which ask to be careful. As as open questions Bachir Sayed listed, under others, the control of the northern borders of W.S., the controle of the airspace, the presence of the Moroccan settlers, the freedom of action during the referendum. The Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs appealed for the constitution of a "Task force" which would supervise the application of the agreements and warrant the final result. He proposed James Baker as leader.
Mahfoud Ali Beiba, Saharawi Prime Minister explained that the identification could be finished in 6 months, adding that the transitional period would be of 4 months. Probably the refugees would vote in the Saharawi controled liberated territories. He estimed that the direct contacts with Morocco should be continued in order to overcome difficulties.
Houston agreement : reactions and comments
The chief of the Algerian govenment named 3 reasons for his country to be glad of the evolution. First Algeria is determined to support stability in the region and acts for friendship between the peoples, second the Peace Plan and its conditions are good and third this country always appealed for a dialogue between the parties.(23.09.97)
23.09.97: The Mauritanian government exprimed its "satifaction". It affirmed, as an official observer, that it will do all possible in order to facilitate the implementation of the settlement plan.
21.09.97: In an interview Mr Matutes, Minister of Foreign Affairs said that in spite of "numerous impediments", " all is well" and " great progress was made thanks to the United States mediation". Spain will support the MINURSO if it is asked for.
In a pressrelease (22.09.97) the "Association des Amis de la RASD" underlines the importance of the results qualified as "historical". But the Association remarks that only the accomplishment of the agreements and the presence of foreign observers and the international press will warrant transparency and regularity of the process.
24.09.97: The direct talks between Morocco and the Polisario in Houston allow optimism, declared the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Russia follows the mission of J. Baker with interest and is ready to contribute to the international efforts to find a solution for the W.S. conflict, especially the MINURSO.
For original language see the french edition !
3-9.10.97 Spain (Bilbao, Vitoria, Donostia, Barcelona, Madrid): "Shertat, cuentas par llegar al Sahara": information campaign about the results of the recent negociations and for solidarity and cooperation with the Saharawi people, organized by Paz y Tercer Mundo and the Asociación de Amig@s de la RASD de Euskadi .
Associació Catalana d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí,
A.C.A.P.S. Catalunya, España,
[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]