ICRC visit to Moroccan prisoners (13 May 1998)
From 26 April to 2 May five ICRC delegates, including a doctor, visited 649 of the 1,800 Moroccan prisoners being held by the Polisario Front in the Tindouf region of Algeria and 84 prisoners who had been freed in April 1997, in occasion of the visit of James Baker, and are still awaiting repatriation. All the prisoners seen were given the opportunity to send Red Cross messages and photos to their families.
The Polisario Front agreed to let the ICRC repatriate those whose condition was considered serious by the ICRC doctor. No date has been set for the simultaneous release of all the prisoners provided for under the UN settlement plan.
15 Swedish soldiers of the UN demining unit could not reach Western Sahara and begin their work in time because the Moroccan authorities wanted to controle their arms. The Swedish Defense Department in Stockholm declared it was the first time they encounter such difficulties. The arms are explosives used to neutralise the minefields and revolvers for personal protection of the soldiers.
Balance of Identification
Convoked applicants since December 1997: 93 682
Identified applicants since December 1997: 64 200
Identified applicants since August 1994: 124 312
34th OAU Summit of Ouagadougou
The Moroccan tentative of exclusion of the Saharawi Republic, prepared for a long time, has failed. Since several years the Moroccan regime did not spare its efforts. African Chiefs of State's visits have succeeded in Rabat. Several African countries retired their SADR recognition, mainly after attractive economical helps. Since several months official declarations and the Moroccan press announced the Moroccan will to return to the OAU, but at the detriment of the SADR.
Burkinas Chief of State, acting as President of the Summit, provoked on June 9 a passionated debate of several hours about the exclusion of the SADR, which was not on the agenda.
Guinea Conakry, with the help of Gabun, Sao Tomé and Principe, Benin, Guinea-Bissao and Congo tried to impose the Moroccan positions. The majority of the Chiefs of State and of delegations defended the OAU Charter and the principels of African unity. The participants have underlined that tMorocco sought to divert the attention of the international community from the obstacles it creates in the way of the implementation of the Houston accords and the UN-OAU Settlement Plan.
A proposal of Senegal to suspend the membership of SADR untill the referendum, has been rejected. Following a South African proposal , the Chiefs of State have finally undertaken their Ministers to study the question at the summit of February next."At Ouagadougou, Africa has categorically rejected the colonial aims of the Moroccan Kingdom" declared the Saharawi government. (Communiqué of the SADR Ministry of Information)
Declarations around the Summit:
Khalil Alioua, Moroccan Minister: "Morocco would no longer have any reason not to rejoin the OAU if the injustice of SADR's admission was rectified. (Paris, 08.05.98)
Abdellatif Filali,chief of the Moroccan diplomacy: "We think the exclusion of these people (SADR) of the OAU at the next summit is now necessary". (AFP, 27.05.98)
Salem ould Salek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of SADR: "We wish Morocco's unconditionnal return to the OAU, beside the SADR. We do not understand why Morocco is negociating with us, meeting with us outside the continent, but does not wish to do it within the OAU". (AFP, 05.06.98)
Hassan II to the media of Burkina Faso: "Sure I will return (to the OAU)". (...) "Just note that if I discuss with them (the Saharawis) it is not to give them the Sahara. But it is to convince them to come back to Morocco". (07.06.98)
Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of SADR: "I am ready to meet King Hassan II personnally before the referendum, if the UN considers it may accelerate the implementation of the voting." (El Mundo, Madrid, 13.06.98)
Sabadell, Catalonia, Spain, 06.06.98: Exhibition about
history and ethnological aspects of the Saharawi people and an
overview of the humanitarian aid projects of the city of Sabadell
Andalucia, Spain: Meetings, Symposiums and Conferences of the representative of the National Union of the Saharawi Women in Spain, Sara Ramdan, about the Saharawi liberation struggle and especially the role of the women, organized by the Instituto Andaluz de la Mujer in Malaga and Granada.
Rimini, Italy: In the frame of its campaign of support of the referendum, the municipality of Rimini, the trade Union CGIL and Hammada, the Saharawi support association, organize a concert with the Algerian raï music group "Urban Raï". A new video, "Viaggio tra le genti del deserto", T-shirts and coloured bags will be sold. (for informations and orders contact Pleoni@rimini.com, price: 25 000 lires it/p. =13 euro + envoy costs)
Valencia, Spain, 06.06.98: A public manifestation in occasion of the Day of solidarity with the disappeared Saharawis took place. 526 candles symbolized the 526 disappeared Saharawis. On the same day an association of support of the AFAPREDESA has been founded with representatives from the Balearic Islands, Cantabria and Valencia.
Festa Popoli, IX edizione, 6, 7 July 1998, Centro Residenziale Università della Calabria, Cosenza. A wide place is given to the solidarity with the Saharawi people. Informations: ARCI Cosenza, phone: 0984 839424 or e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org.
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