Meeting about the repatriation
More than 60 delegates of NGOs working in the refugee camps in health projects met in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque country, Spain. An important Saharawi delegation, leaded by health Minister Bachir Mustafa Sayed participated to the workshop. A repatriation plan, in conformity with the spirit and the letter of the Houston agreements was elaborated which warrants to the Saharawi refugees a return respecting their free will, dignity and security. The project has been transmitted to the UNHCR for improvement and adoption .
Morocco: Disappeared people
Mothers and wifes of victims of forced disappearance between 1963 and 1995 manifested once more at the seat of the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights, asking the authorities to resolve definitively this painfull problem.
In an interview the new leader of the Moroccan Istiqlal Party, Abbas El Fassi ,said: "Morocco has accepted the international resolution asking for a self-determination referendum, but there is a more important principle, the right for territorial integrity."
Mr Dunbar held talks with Mauritania's President Maouya ould Sidi Ahmed Taya. He visited also the identification office in Zouerat.
SADR Foreign Affairs Minister Ould Salek met in Strasbourg with the Parliamentary Group "Peace for the Saharawi people" of the European Parliament.
The same day the Parliament adopted a recommendation for the Council asking it to support the peace plan, to participate actively to the organization of the referendum, to give humanitarian aid for the reinstallation of the refugees and to participate to the MINURSO financially and with observers.
The United Nations might call new talks next month between Morocco and Polisario. M'Hamed Khaddad, Saharawi responsible for the Identification said in a press conference in Paris that former U.S. secretary of state James Baker was considering meeting the two sides in Houston, Texas. Khaddad, who was returning from talks in New York with Annan and Baker, said Morocco and the Polisario were still arguing over whether some tribes were eligible to vote. He said that the December 7, 1998, date set for the referendum was still on, but meeting the May 31 deadline would be difficult.
The identification process, which had been temporarily suspended since 27 February, resumed on 11.03.98. Some differences between the parties over the identification of the contested tribes prevented the adoption of the March programme. A total of 1,500 out of the 4,000 people from the contested tribes were in fact identified in February. The remaining people were yet to be identified. The United Nations Identification Commission would identify non-contested applicants for the time being.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington:"Since my involvement, we have resumed the identification process and have identified thousands of people. We have had some hiccups and we do have some problems that we are working on, but I don't think they are insurmountable at this stage."
"Mr Baker is still engaged in the process and it has always been agreed that, if necessary, he can bring the parties together for another meeting. And so the possibility of a meeting [in Houston] cannot be excluded."
Interview of the Saharawi President
"As a matter of fact Morocco is presenting applicants who do not correspond to any of the five criteria. Numerous groups of men of the same age, never women, are not able to answer to the questions of the Identification Commission regarding their origins or tribe. The Moroccan manipulation is obvious."
"The eventuality of a referendum issue which is against independance, is not even one of our most far-fetched forecasts. The Moroccans are not sure of the results, that's why they use cheating and manipulations and the presence of 120,000 soldiers in the territory." (La Vanguardia, Barcelona)
Visit of the Saharawi President in Catalonia, Spain
Speaking in front of an audience of businessmen and politicians, Mohamed Abdelaziz explained broad outlines of the future Saharawi state he defines as democratic, modern, based on multipartism and economical liberalism, which will realise equality between men and women, in which religion and state will be separate. Questionned about the new Moroccan Prime Minister, he hopes that Youssoufi will bring something new, also regarding the relations with the Saharawi people.
During his trip Abdelaziz met Catalan politicians. He asked for economical assistance for the reconstruction of the country, which needs are enormous and urgent. Mohamed Abdelaziz met also the leader of the Unio Democratica de Catalunya (UDC), Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, vice President of the International Christian Democrat parties.(La Vanguardia, Barcelona, El Periodico de Catalunya, Barcelona)
Mr Youssoufi, Moroccan Prime Minister affirmed that the referendum will take place in December 98 if the Polisario does not hinder its implementation and if the MINURSO sticks to the required neutrality. In an interview with the Russian newspaper "NEZAVISSEMAYA-GAZETA" of 12.03.98 , he declared that the result of the referendum will not change the sovereignity and intergrity of Morocco, adding the Sahara is part of Morocco.
On February 24 hundred of individuals demonstrated in Lemseyed (South Morocco) in favor of the self-determination of the Saharawi people, burning the Moroccan flag and brandishing the SADR emblem. Next day, during a similar demonstration, the police was brought in; there were some persons hurt and a hundred arrested. The AFAPREDESA gives the name of 22 arrested persons who disappeared and who are supposed to be detained in the prison of Inezgane near Agadir. ( Communicado AFAPREDESA)
The Asturian Coordination for support to the referendum has been founded in December 1997, by political parties, trade unions, NGOs and solidarity groups. On February 27, Saharawi national day, they organized a seminar at the university of Oviedo.
All solidarity groups, twinned municipalities, NGOs, trade unions and political parties of this region in the south of Spain created a Coordination for the support of the referendum.
Associazione Valdarnese di Solidarieta con il Popolo Saharawi,
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