The Moroccan Ambassador to the U.N., A. Snoussi, transmitted a letter from the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, A. Filali, to Mr Kofi Annan. It deals with the identification process, reaffirms the will of Morocco to collaborate and respect the Houston agreements. Mr Snoussi denied any meetings between Morocco and the Polisario Front this month in London and announced the expected report of the Secretary-general will ask for the prorogation of the MINURSO mandate ending on April 20.
The official Moroccan news agency MAP announced that Mohamed Jalal Essaid, Chairman of the Chamber of Counsellors, received Charles Dunbar, U.N. special envoy for the Western Sahara. In this context, Mr Essaid informed the UN official on worries and remarks of the members of the parliament, regarding the obstacles facing the peace plan what the agency termed "difficulties hindering the organisation of the referendum".
Interior Minister Driss Basri met Mr Charles Dunbar twice meetings, to discuss the developments of the current process of identification and the following related issues:
- the implementation of the April programme and the preparation of the May programme,
- the identification of the concerned tribes, including contested groups H 41, H 61 and J51/52,
- the opening of new centers for identification in the northern regions of Morocco,
- the announcement of partial results of the identification operation.
The discussions led to the following results: The April programme had been worked out for good. Regarding the May programme, it will be drawn up in the next days. Concerning the contested tribes H 41, H 61 and J51/52, "they will be dealt with in order to reach a comprehensive solution, without any discrimination between the tribes and within the framework of the five criteria set up by the U.N.". New centres for identification will be opened in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Meknes, in addition to two centres expected to open in Sidi Kacem and Kelaat Sraghna. The "partial" results of the identification operation will be announced from 15th April. (MAP)
The President of the Province of Rome, Italy, visits the Saharawi refugee camps with an official delegation on invitation of the governor of the El Ayoun camp.
In an interview to the newspaper Al Hayat, cited by MAP, the Moroccan Minister of Information Mr Larbi Messari, affirms the attachment of Morocco to the U.N. peace Plan but adds the problem of the Sahara «has been resolved in 1975, it just remains for those who are not yet convinced the people of the southern provinces have choosen the morocanity of the Sahara», adding: « the confirmative referendum is just an other exercise». He denied the eventuality of a second meeting in Houston because «there is nothing more to negociate».
News from the occupied territories
According to the AFAPREDESA (Association of Families of Saharawi Prisoners and detainees) the Moroccan authorities have strengthened the safety measures in the occupied part of Western sahara. New security agents have been appointed as district chiefs. These individuals replace the former Saharawis. They have been selected because they worked before in the occupied territories, speak hassaniya, know the traditions, customs and tribal organisation of the Saharawis and have close contact with the Saharawi population. Each chief received a car for his own.
A new secret police has been created in the occupied territories made up of young Moroccans. Their mission is to spy on the Saharawi people. They have been selected according to the same criteria as the district chiefs: good knowledge of the Saharawi social environment, personal or friendly relations with Saharawis, education in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
After a Saharawi woman discovered a grenade in a street at El Ayoun, the Moroccan authorities visited systematically all Saharawis house by house telling them "criminal separatist groups will kidnap their children and commit terrorist attacks". The aim of this campaign is to intimidate the Saharawi population and show that U.N. is not able to warrant the security during the transitory period and that the presence of Moroccan police is necessary.
The trial of the 20 manifestants arrested in Lemseyed, scheduled at Agadair on April 6, has been reported to April 21.
The next European Coordinating Conference of support to the Sahrawi people will take place in Manchester, U.K., on October 9-11.1998. For informations: <Julie_Thorpe@compuserve.com>
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