WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 04

24.-30.01.1999

 

22.01.99
France

Polisario's representative to France, Fadel Ismaïl, stated that as France welcomes the "year of Morocco," it has forgotten that country's illegal occupation of the Western Sahara. He called on all persons of good will, and the media, to raise public awareness of the implications of Morocco's involvement in the Western Sahara and to call on Moroccan officials to respect the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination. The Sahrawi should not be eternally condemned to Moroccan occupation as a result of France's priority to maintain good relations with Morocco, despite that country's increasing isolation as a result of its obstruction of the Western Sahara peace process. He called on France to liberate itself from the shackles imposed on it by these relations and to resume its place as a responsible player in the region of Northwest Africa.

26.01.99
England

During a public meeting organized by the All Party Group for the Sahrawi people, many MPs denounced Morocco's obstruction of the peace process and called on the British government to exercise pressure on Morocco. They expressed their indignation at the allocation of $281 million in EU aid to Morocco this year, while Morocco spends $1 million a day in its illegal occupation of Western Sahara (Polisario Front's UK information bureau).

28.01.99
A delegation from the All Party Group for the Sahrawi people in Parliament met the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Derek Fatchett, to discuss the latest developments regarding Western Sahara.

28.01.99
British Government's answer
In an answer to a written question by Lord Steel in the House of Lords about the British government's current policy on Western Sahara, following the failure of the United Nations to hold the referendum last month, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean answered on behalf of the government: "Her Majesty's Government was disappointed that the referendum in the Western Sahara had to be postponed until December 1999. The UN Secretary General recently visited the region and presented to all the parties involved a package of proposals intended to advance the referendum process. The Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania have all accepted this package and we hope that Morocco also will soon accept. We fully support the UN's efforts to find a just and durable settlement to this dispute. We are working with our EU partners, within the Friends of the Western Sahara Group at the UN and at the Security Council to encourage Morocco to rally to the consensus on the next steps in the process."

28.01.99
SG Report S/1999/88

In his report to the Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara, the Secretary-General noted the Moroccan government's decision to engage in detailed discussions with his Special Representative and the Chairman of the Identification Commission on voter identification and appeals protocols in connection with a referendum on self-determination in the territory. The Moroccan Government is now studying the clarifications provided by the United Nations.
The Secretary-General expressed hope that the current consultations can lead to a prompt resumption of the identification process and to the initiation of the appeals process. He also welcomes the Moroccan Government's decision to formalize the status of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the territory. The Secretary-General recommended that the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) be extended until 28 February. (UN Highlights)

28.01.99
Security Council Resolution S/RES/1224 1999

"The Security Council extends the mandate of the MINURSO until 11 February 1999. Unanimously adopting resolution 1224 (1999), the Council asked the Secretary-General to keep it informed of all significant developments in the implementation of the Settlement Plan and the agreements reached between the parties - the Government of Morocco and the POLISARIO - and, as appropriate, on the continuing viability of MINURSO's mandate."

28.01.99
Basri declaration

Morocco and the United Nations concluded an agreement on the resumption of the identification of would-be voters in the self-determination referendum that the UN plans to hold in the Sahara. The accord deals with the resumption of the identification of tribal groups who had not been admitted to identification, the beginning of appeal procedures and the status of the MINURSO in Morocco (MAP).

28.01.99
EU aid to Morocco

"The European Union's £4bn overseas aid budget should be radically overhauled to ensure that funds go to the world's poorest countries (...). In a scathing report, the Commons International Development Select Committee will call for a "refocusing" of the EU's priorities. The MPs were horrified that Morocco, which is accused of human right abuses in its illegal occupation of Western Sahara, comes out on top of the list of aid recipients. Morocco receives 8 times more EU aid per head than Bangladesh and Ethiopia" (The Independent).

Human rights
In the November 20 to 26, 1998 issue (No 11) of the Moroccan periodical As-Siyassa, it was reported that the 320 Sahrawi detainees released by Moroccan authorities in June 1991, continue to face daily difficulties including health and employment problems. Fifty-seven detainees died in prison, 13 others following their release as a result of serious health problems caused by poor conditions in detention (Courrier de France, No 7).

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