Official visit of President Mohamed Abdelaziz on the Canary Islands
The Saharawi President has been wellcomed at his arrival at Las Palmas by the Vice-President of the government of this Island, Carmelo Ramirez and the lordmayors of the towns of Telde and Santa Lucia de Tirajana twinned with towns of W.S. About two hundred persons were waiting in the middle of the night at the airport waving flags of the SADR and screaming "you-yous" and slogans for Saharawi independance.
This visit was organized with the purpose of explaining the situation concerning the referendum. Later on the Saharawi President met the President of the Government of Gran Canaria, José Macias and the President of the executive of the Canary Islands Manuel Hermoso as well as the President of the regional Parliament and other representatives of local authorities and NGOs.
In an interview the president of the Canarian Governement declared: " We helped the Saharawis in the past, we help them now and we will help them in the future so long it will be necessary", adding that the Moroccan Government should not consider this help as an unfriendly action.
Mr Abdelaziz confirmed the delay of the peace process, because Morocco is trying to include to the identification all members of the contested tribes. He precised that the peace plan still is feasible and Morocco cannot stop it. There are 2 or 3 months of delay and the vote should take place in the first trimester of 1999. Abdelaziz payed tribute to the MINURSOs work and regretted that Morocco is opposed to a greater participation of Spain by the mean of military observers or specialists of the region.
On his side the Spanish Minister of Foreign affairs Abel Matutes, responding to a deputee asking for a greater involment of Spain in the referendum, declared that Spain had to maintain what he named its " exquisita neutralidad". Spain will pursue its humanitarian aid to the Saharawi people which raised from 3,5 millions $ in 1996 up to 7,6 millions $ in 1997, he precised.
Balance of identification:
Identification since August 1994: 108 028
Identification since 3 December 1997: 47 916
Identified of the day (4.05.98): 618 (77 at El Ayoun I, 62 at El Ayoun II, 67 at Tan Tan II, 19 at Guelmim, 144 at El Kelaa des Sraghna, 35 at Smara camp, 62 at Awserd camp, 45 at Zouerate and 107 at Nouadhibou).
The center of Sidi Kacem I opens on 6 May 1998.
Charles Dunbar met in Algiers with the Algerian Foreign Minister Attaf. Discussions turned about the W.S. Peace Plan. Dunbar declared to the press that the referendum supposed to take place on December 7 1998 will be delayed for two months because of the lateness of the voters identification.
For reason of the publication of an article about the Western Sahara conflict the Spanish newspaper El Pais was banned in Morocco for 5 days.
Visit of President Mohamed Abdelaziz in France
The Saharawi President and Secretary General of the Polisario Front stays for a week in Paris on invitation of the "Groupe d'études sur le Sahara Occidental" of the National Assembly (parliament), the "Plateforme de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui" and the "Comité de vigilance du peuple sahraoui". The goal of the visit is to explain to the French public opinion the situation at the eve of the end of the identification process.
The Saharawi leader will participate to a meeting of the Saharawi community in France in occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Polisario Front. He will have talks with political representatives of all the main parties as well as with intellectuals, writers and scientists. He will meet Danielle Mitterrand at the Foundation France Libertés and other NGO representatives. On May 11 he will be the host of the Association of Journalists of North Africa and Middle East.
Abdelaziz will also participate to a reception in honour of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Polisario Front.
Spain, Vigo, Galicia
Third solidarity days with the Saharawi people at the University of Vigo, 27.04.-11.05.98. Photo exhibition, videos and conference
Spain, Almansa, Albacete
More than 2 000 visitors at a rockmusic concert in favour of the referendum on May 4.
In occasion of the visit of the Saharawi Minister of health Bachir Mustapha Sayed in March, the local government announced material aid for the refugee repartriation as well as the sending of observers.
Solidarity manifestations took place at Aviles, Oviedo (sale by of paintings), Nueva Espana and will continue at Tapia de Casariego, Aviles, Gijon, Corvera and the University of Oviedo.
The archbishop of Asturias confirmed the support of catholic NGOs to the referendum.
On May 3 a large public assisted to the projection of the movie "Khalil, son of the Sahara" at the 13th festival of documentary movies at Munich. This movie shows the life in the refugee camps through the eyes of a 12 years old boy. The german support committee is examining the possibility of translations in English, French and Spanish and a distribution as video. Informations: GFSV-Munich, Christoph Steinbrink, tél./fax 0049 89 811 06 57, e-mail:.firstname.lastname@example.org
YA SE PUEDE ESCUCHAR LA RADIO NACIONAL EN INTERNET:
[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]