Morocco - Spain
The daily newspaper of the USFP (socialist party, governmental) appeals to the Moroccan diplomacy to mobilize all its means to make undersdand Spain that the Polisario is a separatist movement like ETA and that Morocco has the courage of organizing a referendum while Spain not only opened a dialogue with ETA. The diplomacy must also elaborate a plan to thwart the NGOs which are a dangerous pressure group supporting the Polisario. The article concludes: «Our coasts can no longer be exploited by fishing boats from the Canary Islands whose owners are financing the campaigns in favour of the separatists». (Al-Ittihad Al-Ichtiraki)
Morocco's communications ministry criticised the Doha-based Al Jazira television station over a broadcast with a spokesman for the Polisario Front. The ministry said the interview from the Qatar capital with the «mercenaries of the Polisario» demonstrated a clearly unequal treatment of the subject, aiming to «embellish» the Polisario. It said the television had invited a Moroccan journalist to comment live from Rabat as the broadcast was being carried, but he had rejected this «mediatic manoeuvre». The communications ministry has expressed its astonishment to the officials of the Al Jazira network on its persistence on treating on an equal footing the Moroccan people and a group of mercenaries in the service of external designs. (Reuters)
The Secretary-General asks the Assembly to appropriate and assess some $65.1 million for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, subject to the Council's extension of the Mission beyond 20 April 1998. The proposed budget provides for the maintenance of the Mission at the authorized strength of 203 military observers, 186 contingent personnel, seven force orderly personnel and 81 civilian police observers, supported by a civilian establishment of 285 international staff, 105 locally recruited personnel and 10 observers from the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The budget estimate is roughly $17.7 million more than the revised budget for the period ending 30 June 1998, the report states. That increase is attributable to the strengthening of the Mission pursuant to Council resolutions 1133 (1997) and 1148 (1998), by which it approved the resumption and completion of identification and the deployment of the engineering unit required for demining activities.
Pending submission of that report, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly appropriate and assess some $21.6 million gross for the maintenance of MINURSO during the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. This recommendation, the report states, is without prejudice to any position the Committee may take on requirements for the same period after receipt of the Secretary-General's report.
During his one-day visit to Cleveland, Ohio, the UN Secretary-General had the chance to discuss the latest concerning Western Sahara and was thoroughly briefed by Mr. Dunbar.
Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, S/1998/404
The Secretary-General's report on the situation in Western Sahara, which he submits to the Security Council every 30 days, noted that the identification process in April was slower than expected. The total number of persons identified as of 11 May was 111,244, leaving fewer than 50,000 applicants from "non-contested" tribes still to be convoked.
The Secretary-General observed that ways of dealing with the 65,000 applicants from «contested» groups had not yet been found, and that his Special Representative would continue to discuss practical and concrete ways of resolving the issue with the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front .
Morocco maintains that all 65,000 have a right to be identified to determine their eligibility to vote. Unless an overall solution is found for all those applicants, it opposes a proposal for MINURSO to complete, as a first step, the identification of 4,000 individuals listed in a 1974 Spanish census and their immediate families.
Polisario opposes the identification of any applicants from the three disputed tribal groups except those listed in the 1974 census and their immediate families.
Annan said in a report last month that if no solution had been found by the end of June to the problem of the three contested tribal groups, and if a large number of applicants from non-contested tribes also remained to be identified, he would recommend that the Security Council «reconsider the viability of the mandate of MINURSO», due to expire on 20 July.
Meeting of the Council of Socialist International, Oslo
A Saharawi delegation leaded by Mohamed Sidati, Minister Councelor of the Presidence hold talks with the majority of the present delegations. A resolution was adopted welcoming the Houston Agreement and the mediation of James Baker III and calling upon Morocco and the Polisario to abide its letter and spirit. The SI declares its agreement with the United Nations and the OAU on the organisation of a free, fair and transparent referendum on self-determination and appeals to the authorities of MINURSO to ensure the participation of observers and the international press during the different stages of implementation of the peace process and during the referendum. (fulltext)
25th anniversary of the Polisario Front
Happiness and enthousiasm and a great hope for a close return to the native country were the main caracteristics of the festivities for the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the liberation struggle in Western Sahara, placed under the slogan: «A quarter of century of resistence is a proof of existence».
In his opening speach the Polisario leader and President of the SADR Mohamed Abdelaziz declared: «The 20 of May 1973 was the first step of the liberating political action through which the Saharawi people has broken with its humiliation and marginalization, and today, 25 years later the whole world has noticed that the Polisario is not the result of particular regional or international cicumstances but rather the open expression of the will of the Saharawi people». Later he established the progress of the peace process, particularly in the domain of voter identification. He also exprimed his satisfaction concerning the work of the UNHCR for a repatriation of the refugees in security, dignity and freedom.
Among the numerous visitors: 3 members of the Algerian government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ouganda and the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania, Ambassadors from Madagascar, Mozambique, Cuba, Mali and Venezuela. From Europe Deputees, local or regional representatives or solidarity group members from France, U.K., Sweden, Italy, Portugal, as well as a numerous delegation from Spain assisted to the commemoration. Pierre Galand represented the European Coordination of the support to the Saharawi people.
The Secretary of State at the British Foreign Office in charge of North Africa and Middle East Derek Fatchett said at a press conference hold in Rabat his hope for stability in the Maghreb as the condition for socio-economic development of the region. In meetings with Prime Minister Youssoufi, Foreign Minister Filali and Interior Minister Basri, as well as with King Hassan II, the British-Moroccan cooperation and the Western Sahara problem were discussed. (AFP)
The President of South Africa Nelson Mandela reaches Rabat for a 4 days private visit. The peace process will be discussed with King Hassan II. President Mandela will assist to the OAU summit on June 9 in Burkina Faso and go to Algeria for an official visit. (AFP)
Villena, Alicante, Spain
First Cultural solidarity week from 11-17.05.98, organized by the local solidarity group: symposium about Saharawi women, photo-exhibition, film, fund raising campaign, symposium about the referendum with the participation of the Saharawi representative in Spain Omar Mansour and the secr.-general of the Association of lawyers for Western Sahara Felipe Briones.
14-17.05.98: A delegation of the National Union of Saharawi Women participated to the 15th the Conference of the Methodist Women which brought together more than 10,000 participants and numerous foreign delegations.
16-19.05.98: The representative in Spain of the AFAPREDESA (Association of Families of Prisoners and Disappeared Saharawis) participated to the radio day (see last week) and exposed in a public conference and a press encounter the activities of the Saharawi Human Rights defense organization.
Valencia, Catalonia, Spain
22.05.98: Solidarity dinner with a show of the Saharawi music group El Wali. The profit goes to the construction of the hospital of Bir Lahlou.
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