SG Report on the situation S/1998/849
The report covers developments since the report dated 18 August 1998 (S/1998/775): "All applicants from tribal groups other than H41, H61 and J51/52 have been convoked and their identification may now be regarded as complete."
About military aspects Mr Annan notes that "the engineering support unit from Pakistan continued with its construction work" and "the demining unit from Sweden proceeded with the demining". He adds that "in spite of the progress made, the operational capabilities of these FMUs remain constrained, as their communication equipment has yet to be released by the Moroccan authorities from Laayoune airport."
Concerning the status-of-forces "it is expected that the agreements with [Algeria and Mauritania] may be signed shortly". A reply was received from Morocco and is currently being reviewed.
Road reconnaissance in the Territory, east of the berm, was completed and a hydrological survey was conducted. But the Secretary-General writes: "I remain concerned that the Moroccan authorities have yet to take concrete action to enable UNHCR to carry out the necessary preparatory work for the repatriation of Saharan refugees."
The Independent Jurist received a new list of Saharawis detained by Morocco for political reasons. The Moroccan authorities informed Mr Roucounas that they had no further specific information on individual cases of Saharawi prisoners of the list of January 1997.
"Despite assurances from the Moroccan authorities, the Mission continues to be confronted with bureaucratic and procedural problems", writes the Secretary-General obviously annoyed. "However, he adds, I am concerned that the question of the identification of applicants from those three tribal groupings remains outstanding. It is my hope that the parties will be prepared to resolve the issues surrounding the identification of these applicants, in order to move forward promptly towards a solution of the Western Sahara problem." He underlines that "there are a number of troubling problems which continue to impede progress towards holding a referendum in Western Sahara."
"In order to allow for Mr Baker's consultations with the two parties to take place, which are now envisaged for late September or early October 1998, and for an assessment of the situation thereafter, I recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 October 1998", concludes Mr Annan.
"According to diplomatic sources in Rabat, Washington put pressure on Moroccan and Algerian responsibles to resume a trustfull relationship in order to hurry up the solution of the Western Sahara conflict in conformity with the UN Peace Plan, setting up an adequate climate for new partnership agreements between the USA, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria" (Al-Hayat, London).
Moroccan Prime Minister said...
"The question of our territorial integrity is in a very sensitive stage (...). Such a situation brings the objective observers to recognize the uselessness of a referendum to confirm the inalienable right of Morocco to get back its Sahara" (Liberation, USFP).
Official visit to Ghana
Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of SADR, has met the President of Ghana. The talks were about the bilateral relations, the peace process and the Moroccan intrigues about voter designation for the referendum. Jerry Rawlings expressed his satisfaction about the good relations between the two countries and reaffirmed the solidarity of his country with the Saharawi cause and the support of Ghana to the settlement Plan.(Communique of SADR Ministry of Information)
The Secretary General of the Moroccan nationalist Istiqlal party, M. Boucetta, declared in front of the Committee of his party: "We consider now that the referendum has become aimless and overtaken" (Al-Alam, Istiqlal).
Security Council Resolution S/RES/1198/1998
The Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the MINURSO through the end of October. The Council, acting unanimously, was responding positively to the recommendation by the Secretary-General. In its resolution the Council requested the Secretary-General to report in 30 days on the progress achieved in the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
Congressional Hearing on Western Sahara
The African Subcommittee's hearing entitled "Western Sahara: Realizing Self-Determination" will be held in Room 2255 Rayburn at 10 AM on Thursday, September 24. Invited to testify are Sahrawi Ambassador Moulud Said; Moroccan Ambassador Mohamed Benaissa, US Ambassador Ronald Newman and possibly a representative from MINURSO.
[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]