Support to the Peace Plan
In January 1998 the Parliament of the Republic of San Marino, full member of the U.N., voted a resolution supporting the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara. The text asks the U.N. to warrant a democratic procedure.
Letter of the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, S/1998/142
In his intermediary report Mr Kofi Annan informs about the progress of the implementation of the peace plan. He mentions the arrival on February 9 of his new Special Representative Charles Dunbar and pays tribute to Mr Erik Jensen who leaves after 4 years as head of the MINURSO.
He notes that the identification was interrupted several times owing to illness of sheikhs, sandstorms, disputes between the parties, a change in the procedures at the El Ayoun airport for arriving and departing of Polisario delegations and the reciprocal change at the Tindouf airport, or the Eid-el-Fitr holidays, adding that these «interruptions and other factors contributed to a perceptible increase in tension between the two parties. There was a marked increase in anti-POLISARIO and sometimes anti-MINURSO coverage in the Moroccan press. The other factors included Moroccan official protests and public demonstrations against the negative testimony of several sheikhs on the POLISARIO side, the designation by the Frente POLISARIO of its former "Minister of Defence" (now "Minister for the Occupied Territories") and its "Minister of Education" as observers, and protests against the behaviour of a specific POLISARIO observer; changes in the Moroccan arrangements for meals for the POLISARIO delegation at Laayoune; and refusal, for a time, by a Moroccan observer to allow the identification of non-convoked ex-prisoners of war.»
Other contested point, some 4000 unconvoked individuals will be identified in March. On the basis of the outcome of the identification of these individuals, decisions will then be made on ways of dealing with any additional applicants from the contested tribal groups, including those in Morocco.
Concluding, Mr Annan counts on the parties to refrain from any statement or action that could undermine the significant progress made so far in the identification process and appelas to cooperate fully with MINURSO in completing this process, so that the transitional period may start as planned.
Prince Sidi Mohamed goes to Bruxelles in the middle of March in order to chair an international conference about «The association of Morocco and the EU countries».
67th Council of Foreign Ministers of OAU member states in Addis Abbeba. The question of Western Sahara is on the agenda.
Driss Basri to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo: « Only an identification process which respects scrupulously the five criteria can resolve the problem.... Morocco will accept the number determined by the U.N. specialists.... The southern tribes are loosing their patience seeing their members systematically refused. If a large part of the Saharawi people is dicrimined by MINURSO, we will not be able to convince our people to continue the operation.»
Declaration of Dunbar
The Special Representative announces that identification offices will open on March 9 in Kaalat des Shragna and Sidi Kacem in Morocco. Mr Dunbar will go to Mauritania on March 2 in order to meet the government and visit the identification office in Zoueratt.
Balance of the identification
34,082 identified individuals since 3.12.97
45,637 convoked individuals since 3.12.97
94,194 identified individuals since August 1994
22th Anniversary of the proclamation of the SADR
There are many commemorations and solidarity manifestations in the refugee camps and around the world. We mention some we are aware of.
The Polisario Representative in France appeals to politicians, NGOs and civil society to support the peace process in W.S. Mr Fadel Ismail remembers the importance of sending observers on place to watch the progress of the identification.
Creation of the «Plataforma Canaria por un Referendum Justo en el Sahara Occidental» including 30 organisations of different tendencies, twinned cities, etc...A public meeting will take place on March 4 in La Laguna, Tenerife.
Twinning of the association "Cordoba solidaria" and the "Council of the Southern District" with the Saharawi Human Rights NGO AFAPREDESA, followed by a solidarity party named "For a free Sahara".
The «Plataforma aragonesa Pro-Sahara» organizes a manifestation in Zaragoza. Twenty organisations appeal for a fair and transparent self- determination referendum under controle of international observation. The manifestation is followed by a fete for fundraising for the Saharawi people.
The municipality of Zaragoza votes a resolution supporting the peace plan.
In the Cortes of Aragon, the regional parliament, an all parties Parliamentary group supporting the referendum is created.
The project «Caravan for the referendum in W.S.» is presented in Barcelona, supported by all parties, trade unions and different organisations. It will leave Barcelona on May 24 with material and vehicles for the refugee camps.
In Geneva a official reception will take place on March 2 organized by the Swiss support committee.
The Canarian Committee of support to the Saharawi people of La Laguna organizes a charter flight to the refugee camps at the end of March. Informations: Asociacion Canaria de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui, C/ Benito Perez Armas, s.n., La Laguna (Tenerife), tel. 922-253713.
In occasion of the International Women's Day the Municipality of Vilafranca del Penedes, Spain, will dedicate its traditional meal to the solidarity with Sahrawi Women.
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