Declaration by the European Union Council President
The European Union has restated its full support for the settlement
plan proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General. While
expressing its concern about the ongoing disagreement regarding the
three contested tribal groups, it expressed its approval of the
proposed arbitration between the parties and the decision taken by
the Security Council in its December 17 resolution. It expressed its
sincere hope that the consultations scheduled before the end of
January 1999 will bring results.
Early Day Motion (see week 51/98)
To date, 112 British MPs have signed a motion on the Western Sahara
calling on the British government to exercise pressure on Morocco to
accept Kofi Annan's proposals. These MPs belong to various parties,
and the list is growing.
Madeleine Albright in Morocco
According to the Moroccan daily Al Mounaddama, the US Secretary of
State will be in Morocco on January 26 to discuss the situation in
the Western Sahara and Iraq with the King, head of government and
minister of foreign affairs. This information was denied on 20.01.99
by the American embassy in Rabat.
A "source who wishes to remain anonymous" has told AFP Rabat that
only 85 000 Sahrawis were accepted as voters out of the 147 000
people identified by MINURSO. Out of those accepted, 40% live in the
Tindouf region, 10% in Mauritania and 50% in occupied Western Sahara
or Morocco. The same source stated that only 3000-4000 of the 65 000
members of the contested tribal groups should be accepted as voters.
The final voter list should number just below 90 000.
In a release published following the AFP dispatch, MINURSO stated
that the identification process has not yet been completed and that
appeals still have to be processed. "Any hypothesis as to the number
(.) is premature at this point" and numbers are "purely speculative."
For Polisario's representative in France, the estimate of 90 000
votes "seems correct." Fadel Ismaïl believes, however, that
"Morocco will not accept a referendum that it doesn't already know it
can win." But he insists that there is "only one possible option (.)
Morocco's defiance must be met with economic and political sanctions"
or the UN must recognize the Sahrawi Republic (interview with RFI).
Driss Basri met with Charles Dunbar, special representative for the
Western Sahara, and Robert Kinlock, President of MINURSO's
Identification Commission. The following points were raising during
the meeting: 1. implementation and the terms and conditions of
MINURSO's mandate; establishment of UNHCR in El Ayoun and protocol
for the repatriation of refugees; terms and conditions of the
implementation of certain clauses with regard to identification in
the "package" proposed by the UN Secretary-General. New working
sessions will be held in the next few days with MINURSO and the UNHCR
In an interview given to a French daily, Driss Basri stated: "We
accept Kofi Annan's plan in its entirety. We must move forward. We
will sign the agreement to extend MINURSO's mandate and we will make
official the UNHCR's presence with its mandate to repatriate
refugees." He criticized the manner in which the identification
process took place: "Polisario observers demonstrated a flagrant bias
(.) with the complicity of certain MINURSO members. All Sahrawis have
the right to vote." (Le Figaro, Paris).
Interview with M'hamed Khaddad
In an interview given to the Dutch daily De Volkskrant, M'hamed
Khaddad, a member of the Executive of the Polisario Front, stated
that the alternative to a referendum "is war." He added that if there
is no solution in place by January 31, MINURSO will withdrawn, and
war and instability will ensue. Khaddad called on Europe to exercise
pressure against Morocco, because "Morocco depends almost entirely on
the European Union and its individual member States." He stressed
that the new Moroccan government has not changed Morocco's position.
"You have seen as well as I have that Morocco has two governments,"
Khaddad said, alluding to the Hassan II crown and Youssoufi's
government coalition. For him, Youssoufi was named to carry out the
"dirty work," since it takes a socialist to talk to the socialists
currently in power in Europe.
The UN Secretary-General's report, expected on January 22, has been
postponed by one week.
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