Session of the European Parliament
No less than 10 parliamentarians have intervened on the Western Sahara issue. The president of the Council, Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner (Austrian Minister for Cooperation), affirmed that the EU fully supports the peace plan and MINURSO. She stated that the EU should not develop its own initiatives at this point, but carry on quiet diplomacy instead. «Future support measures by the Union remain to be defined.» In the meantime, she is in direct contact with Kofi Annan. She proposed to the UN Secretary-General that she accompany him or James Baker on a joint mission. «We should do all in our power to ensure that a referendum takes place», she stated. But the chances are slim that talks between the UN and Morocco will produce results by the end of January. Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner declared to be very aware that Morocco is trying to delay the process, since a vote would most likely favour independence. In her opinion, James Baker should intervene without delay. If the situation does not improve considerably by the end of January, the withdrawal of MINURSO should be addressed and «we should probably discuss other political solutions».
16 December 1998
ICRC visits Moroccan prisoners held by Polisario Front
«An ICRC team including a medical doctor visited 1,080 Moroccan prisoners held by the Polisario Front near Tindouf, Algeria, between 2 and 8 December. The delegates also saw the 84 prisoners released in April 1997 who are still awaiting repatriation to Morocco» (ICRC News 98/50).
Complaint against Hassan II
Judge Baltasar Garzón of the Spanish national court, closed the charge of genocide made against the King of Morocco. Hassan II, current head of state, enjoys immunity and as a result court did not have jurisdiction. On September 15, 1998, lawyer Francisco Fernández Goberna laid charges against the«supreme political and military authority of the Kingdom of Morocco» from 1975 to 1990 for genocide, terrorism and disappearances (Europa Press).
A spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General affirmed that Kofi Annan never submitted a proposal for the partition of the Sahara (El Pais). (see week 52)
The SADR's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has accused Morocco of hindering the Western Sahara peace process and has called on the international community to pressure Rabat to honour the Houston Agreements.
During a press conference at the SADR embassy in Algiers, Mr Mohamed ould Salek stated that the Polisario Front hopes that Morocco will accept the most recent proposals set forth by the UN Secretary-General. If Morocco fails to do so, «the international community must grant the SADR political and economic recognition». He added, «If Morocco continues to oppose the clear will of the United Nations and international law, the Security Council has a duty to study the terms and conditions of economic and political sanctions against Morocco. The Sahrawi people, deprived of peace and justice, prefer peaceful means of resolution. If those fail, however, we would be obliged to resort once again to armed struggle for national liberation. The national, regional and international repercussions of this would rest entirely on Morocco's shoulders», he concluded (APS).
The 9th national Istiqlal youth congress was held from December 17 to 19 in Bouznika. It called for the withdrawal of Minurso from the region, declaring the Sahara issue «a closed case»
«Moroccan journalists are the last to be informed of developments in the Western Sahara peace process», according to the Moroccan press. One newspaper called on the government to «enlighten the general public (.) as the Saharan issue concerns all Moroccans».
Proliferation of nuclear energy
The construction of a Chinese 10 MW nuclear power plant in Tan-Tan is the first step toward the proliferation of nuclear energy in Morocco. According to the newspaper "Canarias7", the Moroccan government is currently negotiating the establishment of several more nuclear power plants of this type. In addition, a French company is slated to build a 600 MW reactor between Essaouira and Safi before 2010. Morocco has access to uranium due to its phosphate resources. The electricity generated is destined primarily for the Spanish market, which will be facilitated by the existing Tarifa power cable linking the two countries.
21.12.98 Cantabria, Spain
The mayors of Torrelavega and Castro Urdiales presented two Land-Rovers to the association of friends of the Sahrawis. These vehicles, valued at US$40,000, will be used to transport medicine and food, as part of a convoy schedule to leave Alicante on 30.12.98.
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