SG's Visit to Maghreb, 2nd part
While the SG is on the way to Algiers and the Tindouf refugee camps, the UN spokesman declares: «He (Annan) has no illusions about the political complexity of the Western Sahara problem. Yet he continues trying to inch the peace process forward».
Visit of Mr Annan to Tindouf and the Smara camp
The SG was welcomed at the airport by Algerian officials, Saharawi responsibles, MINURSO and UNHCR members. After visiting the MINURSO headquarter and addressing the staff he flew by helicopter to the Smara camp where President Mohamed Abdelaziz welcomed him. Follows a troops inspection.
At the Samar camp Mr Annan was greeted by a brass band and thousands of cheering refugees, waving Saharawi flags and streamers claiming their hope in the UN mission and will of independence. As a present a camel was offered to the SG. by the population of the camps.
For nearly an hour, Annan and Abdelaziz had met one-on-one, after which Secretary-General Annan had met with sheiks or leaders of families and clans from the refugee camps, who had expressed their frustration with delays in the peace process, but who had pledged to continue cooperating with it. The Polisario Front transmitted to Mr Annan a document titled «The latest developments of the UN-OAU peace process»
Mrs Annan, on her side, met responsibles of the National Union od Saharawi Women who manage the «School of 27 February».
Press conference Annan
U.N. chief Kofi Annan told about 50 mostly foreign journalists he has won clear «yes» from the Polisario Front to his peace plan to resolve the protracted dispute over the Western Sahara. However, he said that the Moroccans had raised some questions. «We are discussing these questions which I hope we will be able to clarify», he added. He also declared «We have powers of persuasion but we can't apply force all over the world».
He also talked about a planned visit of Mrs Ogata in the Territory before the end of the year.
Meeting the solidarity movement
The SG had a short encounter with a delegation* of European politicians, NGO representatives and members of the European Parliament. So he witnessed the support and solidarity for the Saharawi people of the European civile society, especially from Spain. The delegation named «Mission of peace in the refugee camps» reaffirmed its demand to the UN to bring the self-determination referendum process to an end. (Communique in Spanish)
*Heads of the delegations: Michael McGowan, Deputy of E.P., President of the parliamentary Intergroup Peace for the Saharawi people, Pilar Costa Serra, Spanish Senate, Lluis Recoder i Miralles and Belarmina Martinez Gonzalez, Spanish Congress, Txomin Aurrecoetxea, Autonomous Parliaments of the Spanish State, Antonio Lopez Ortiz, Federation of Institutions of Solidarity with the Saharawi people (FEDISSA), Felipe Briones Vives, International Association of Lawyers for Western Sahara, Pepe Taboada Valdés, Coordination of the Associations of Friends of the Saharawi people in Spain, Lord Winchelsea, British Parliament, Pierre Galand, president of the European Coordination of the support to the Saharawi people.
At the evening, the Saharawi President presented to the media the results of the visit from his point of view. He confirmed the approval by the SADR of all the proposals of the SG, «even if some points are not convenient for us, the important is to show we will peace and stay attached to international law, and to repeat our full readyness to collaborate with the UN». He precised that the approach of the SADR is not to let arguments to Morocco for blocking the peace process.
Mr Anan hold talks with the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Head of the government, the presidents of the Parliament as well as with President Lamine Zeroual. He inaugurated the new House of the UN at Hydra.
The UN Secretary-General obtained the entire support of the Algerian government to his proposals of reactivating the peace process, he declared.He qualified the meetings as very useful. The preparation of the next OAU Summit in June 99 in Algiers was also evoked.
In contradiction to some rumors, Mr Ould Salek, Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared the SADR will never accept to cash the sovereignty of Western Sahara nor accept the status of an autonomous region. Meanwhile he added that an agreement with Morocco of the same kind as the Evian agreements signed by Algeria and France could be considered.
«Troubles will occur in Western Sahara if the UN proceed to an untimely publication of the voters list yet approved by the MINURSO» told a high Moroccan responsible anonymously to the French newspaper "Le Monde", «because the individuals not admitted to vote will react».
This declaration was largely commented and diffused by the Moroccan media which start a new campaign against MINURSO.
Mrs Mireille Elmalan, European MP in charge of the relations with the Maghreb countries invited a Polisario delegation to a meeting of her commission devoted to the Western Sahara conflict. This fact provoked the anger of Morocco, so its Embassy in Bruxelles announced that Morocco, in the future, will not participate to any meeting presided by Mrs Elmalan.
Le Sahara Occidental
en direct. The site of the French section of the
International Observatory of the Referendum in Western Sahara,
Cordoba, 28 November: the solidarity group Jaima presented a photo-exhibition and video tape about the Saharawi people at a youth festival.
05.12.98, The French section of the International Observatory of the Referendum in Western Sahara, publishes in the newspaper "Le Monde" an appeal titled:«The referendum in Western Sahara must take place», signed by numerous VIPs, deputees, responsibles of associations etc... (http://www.sahara-occidental.com)
08.12.98, Bern, Reithalle, Solidarity Day " For the selfdetermination of the Saharawis".
09.12.98, Donostia /San Sebastian, a Saharawi tent is erected at the Ibaeta campus.
11.12.98, Burjassot, Valencia, at Tivoli cultural center, 22h30, music concert with the groups Urbalia Rurana (Valencia) and Leyoad (Saharawi) in favor of the construction of a hospital at Bir Lehlou.
12.12.98, Madrid, national manifestation "SAHARA EN EL CORAZON, por un referendum justo, libre y transparente", in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pza. de la Provincia, with, at 12 am a symbolic vote for independence and since 18h30 a solidarity festival.
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