Letter to William Clinton (22.10.98)
14 US Congressmen sent a letter to President Clinton asking the Administration to " be unequivocal in expressing (its) disappointment with Morocco's obstruction of a fair and free referendum. Furthermore, if Morocco does not cooperate with the UN and Secretary Baker, the United States should consider outright recognition of the Saharawi Republic".
Right to self-determination
In Barcelona, Spain, a seminary took place from 21.-27.11.98, organized by the UNESCO Center of Catalonia and the UNESCO Division of Human Rights and Peace. The theme was :The implementation of the right to self-determination as a contribution to conflict resolution. Great emphasis was placed on the Western Sahara and Saharawi Minister Mohamed Sidati has to forward the conclusions to UN SG Kofi Annan
The situation in the occupied territories
During the UN Secretary General's visit, a Swiss journalist was able to visit the occupied zones in Western Sahara. He reported that journalists in El Ayoun were more or less discreetly followed by "men dressed in sports clothes like in the old days in the Eastern Bloc." It was impossible to make contact with the locals. When one young man who could speak English approached a journalist, another youth intervened stating "that he should not be speaking to a foreigner." In another neighbourhood a brief discussion was able to take place without witnesses. Four people claiming to be Sahrawis stated their situation was bad, that the indigenous population was discriminated against in favour of Moroccan colonists brought to the region by the government. Decent apartments and good jobs are reserved to Moroccans. Moroccan and Sahrawi children are educated separately. No opposition is tolerated and five clandestine prisons still exist in Western Sahara for anyone who attempts such resistance.
UK House of Commons
Derek Fatchett, State Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated that a referendum should be held in the Western Sahara as soon as possible.
A Parliamentary Group "Peace for Western Sahara" has been created.
UN General Assembly
The Assembly unanimously accepted the resolution on Western Sahara proposed by the Fourth Committee, that reiterates its support for a referendum on the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara..
The Sahrawi ambassador to Venezuela visited Argentina at the end of November. Hash Ahmed was received by the ministry of foreign affairs. He also met a number of Argentinean parliamentarians including the president of the foreign affairs commission.
Sevila, 4th Congress of the Federation of progressist lawyers associations
The congress passed a resolution in favour of a referendum on self-determination. It called on Spain to abandon its pseudo-neutral position and to help MINURSO in any way possible as well as to suspend its accords with Morocco that could compromise Spanish neutrality, especially in the area of arms.
In a communiqué published on December 7, the date a referendum was supposed to be held in the Western Sahara, the "Coordination européenne du soutien au peuple sahraoui", meeting in Brussels, reaffirmed that the UN/OAU peace plan remains the only viable path toward independence for Africa's last colony. It called on the Council of Ministers of the European Union to ask France and Spain to abandon their partisan positions that encourage Morocco.
Moroccan nuclear plant
Opposition is already being voiced to the project to build a 10 MW plant in proximity to Tan-Tan. A parliamentarian from the Canary Islands is calling on the autonomous government to inquire into the project given that it represents a potential danger for the Canaries, located less than 200 km from the Moroccan coast. He pointed out that alternative energy forms exist that are less dangerous than nuclear power, to desalinate seawater. The Canary Islands environmental federation, Ben Magec, is also opposed to the project: "Setting up 20 to 30 wind turbines, which cost a lot less and produce no waste, would be adequate." (Canarias7)
Kofi Anna met the UK and US ambassadors, upon their request, to discuss issues related to Libya and the Western Sahara. The Secretary General's report on the Western Sahara was submitted today to the members of the Security Council who are scheduled to announce their decision on December 17 regarding MINURSO's future. Before this, meetings will be held on Dec. 14 with countries with military commitments to MINURSO and consultations will take place on Dec. 15 (UN).
Ahmed Snoussi, Morocco's permanent representative to the UN, refuted the news that the Kingdom had rejected the UN Secretary General's latest proposals. In a statement published in the Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, Snoussi called this information "tendentious propaganda spread by the enemies of the territorial integrity of Morocco." Snoussi foresees another meeting with Annan to look at Morocco's response (MAP).
"The referendum in Western Sahara must take place"
Around the 7 of December 1998, scheduled day for the referendum, all over Europe manifestations took place, to support a quick implementation of the vote.
The AFAPREDESA published a "Declaration of December 7", the European Coordination of the support of the Saharawi people spead a communiqué. In France the French section of the International Observatory of the referendum in WS publishe in the newspaper "Le Monde" an appeal signed by numerous personalities. In Spain intellectuals made public a "Manifesto" and in several cities demonstrations with symbolic votes took place.
Sweden: On 7 December a manifestation, arranged by Föreningen Västsahara, was held outside the Moroccan embassy in Stockholm. Maj-Britt Theorin, Social Democrat, from the European parliament and Eva Zetterberg, Left, vice chairman of the Swedish parliament, among others, said in their speeches that Morocco has to implement the referendum and that the international community must put pressure on Morocco to fullfill the peace agreement. A letter to the Moroccan king has been signed by most parties of the parliament, their women and youth organisations together with a number of other organisations. In the letter the Moroccan government is demanded to respect the Houston agreement and to fullfill the peace process. The Moroccan government is also asked to fullfill agreements not only in words but also in action. An interparliamentarian group was reestablished in the Swedish parliament on 7 December. In Gothenburg speaches were made and leaflets were spread about the postponed referendum as well.
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