Austria will probably send a staff of 260 soldiers to Western Sahara as its participation to the MINURSO.
Barcelona: International Forum of Solidarity with the Saharawi Women
About 200 women from Europe, Africa and Latin America, among them Mrs Danielle Mitterrand and the Austrian Minister Barbara Prammer, participated to this encounter. In addition to several responsibles of the National Union of Saharawi Women, Spanish and Catalan representatives, Mr Frank Ruddy, former Vice-President of the Identification Commission of the MINURSO and Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Representative at the U.N., made speeches.
The creation of the International Coordination Platform for Solidarity with Saharawi Women has been agreed to. The Platform will be coordinated through the M. Aurelia Capmany Foundation of Barcelona. The principal objective of the Platform is to give support to the celebration of a fair, clean and democratic referendum which respects the legitimate aspirations of Saharawi women and of the Saharawi people in general.
(full text of the Final declaration of the Forum)
Press conference of Minister Ould Salek in Algiers
The new Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that what was done by the identification Commission in the past two months was "encouraging" compared to 1994 and 1995. A few days before, the Polisario Front complained of "pressure, provocations and manipulations" by Morocco aimed identification process. It also denounced that the Moroccan authorities refuse the shiouk and observers of the Polisario to meet their families or to enjoy of freedom of movement, as well as the media are not allowed to visit the occupied territories. "The Moroccan government wants the identification operation to be held in total privacy so it can take pressure on the Saharawi citizen and shiouk" (El Watan, Algiers).
Declaration of appointed Moroccan Prime Minister Youssoufi
"We will work for the recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty (on Western Sahara) by the international opinion and for the truthfull and serious implementation of the Houston agreements" (El Pais).
The Moroccan delegation, leaded by former Polisario members, continues its trip in Europe: Gajmoula mint Abbi met some NGOs and local authorities in Barcelona, Madrid and Segovia, while Hakim Ibrahim went to the Canary Islands on February 10 and 11.
Charles Dunbar on trip
The new Special Representative of the S.G. began his trip in London. Mr Dunbar was visiting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for talks with officials. On February 10 he arrived in Rabat, met King Hassan II, the Prince Heir and the Prime Minister.He hold two working sessions with Driss Basri Minister of Interior. Mr Dunbar met also the European Ambassadors in Rabat.
In the media the campaign against MINURSO was going on (original
Libération (USFP) of 09.02.98: "Dans sa conférence de presse [New York 04.02.98] Dunbar a étalé tout simplement la version séparatiste de la question, ce qui constitue déjà un a priori inacceptable".
Le Matin du Sahara on 10.02.: "Le comportement de la MINURSO reflète une partialité coupable et en totale contradiction avec la nature de sa mission".
Libération on 12.02.: "Arrivée de Dunbar, nouvel envoyé spécial dans l'obstruction séparatiste".
On 13.02. Al Bayane: "La MINURSO n'entreprend aucun effort pour faire respecter les critères d'identification, elle observe une attitude de neutralité négative".
M. Dunbar is expected on 14.02. in the Saharawi refugee camps, later he will reach El Ayoun, Nouakchott and Algiers.
"Cataluña con el Sahara. Referendum libre, Sahara independiente"
This is the name of a declaration approved by the township of Vilafranca del Penedes, in Spain. In this document the local authorities also ask the Governments of Catalonia and Spain for political, human and material support for the peace plan.
The identification was suspended for some hours at El Ayoun-1 office.
At a press conference in London, Ould Salek, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic said "The process is not in good health". "Unfortunately there is a great danger that the process could be in jeopardy due to the behavior of Morocco". The Polisario Front appealed to the international community and media to help keep on track the referendum.
The AFAPREDESA reveals the death of a Saharawi worker aged 34 years, Dgouena Mohamed Labat Lahmad, who has been hurted by a truck drived by a Moroccan. This incident occured in Smara on February 10 and has not been investigated by police. Next day the relatives of the victim organised a manifestation in order to protest against this assaination and to ask for an inquiry. The manifestation was broken up violently by the security forces.This is the third suspect death of a Saharawi citizen since beginning of 1998.
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