Italian Parliament (14.01.99)
Following a mission by a parliamentary delegation headed by Mr.
Leccese (see week 45 / 98 ), and a debate
involving the under-secretary of state for foreign affairs, Mr.
Serri, the foreign affairs commission unanimously endorsed a
resolution that calls on the Italian government to continue to
support the United Nations peace process for the Western Sahara and
also to seek out support from appropriate international and bilateral
organizations, so that the referendum will take place without further
delay. The commission also called on the Italian government to
promote dialogue between the parties, "and to eventually offer to
host this dialogue in our country."
An interparliamentarian group was formally founded in the Swedish
Parliament. The group consists of 22 MPs out of 349, and represents
all political parties sitting in the parliament. The leader of the
group, Kent Härstedt, is very dedicated to Western Sahara: "It
was a good start and it will be easy to recruit a lot of members!"
The national council of the Moroccan organization for human rights
(OMDH) met to study the issue of forced disappearances and concluded
that four months after the declaration of the consultative council on
human rights (see week 42 / 98 ) there
have been no clarifications regarding measures taken by public
authorities to resolve this issue. "It is extremely unclear as to the
measures taken," the OMDH added and restated that it is essential
that the issue of the disappeared be dealt with in a transparent,
impartial and objective manner.
Appeal of the European Coordination
In the face of Morocco's ongoing rejection of the UN's package, the
Task Force of the European Coordination of Sahrawi support
committees, meeting in Paris, called on European governments and the
European Union Council of Ministers to "take urgent measures to
pressure the Moroccan government to respect all clauses of the Peace
Plan and Houston Agreements."
The Canary Islands Sahrawi solidarity association condemned the
expulsion to Morocco of two Sahrawi citizens. They are Mohamed
Chigali (1967) and Abdallah Ruh, both born in the Western Sahara. The
first lived in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria from 1976 to
1996, the second from 1989 to 1996. They then went to Mauritania and
from there to the Canary Islands, where they have been living since
1998 with Mauritanian passports and Sahrawi identity cards. In early
February, both Sahrawis were detained at Tenerife, then handed over
to Moroccan authorities in Melilla, even though they were clearly
identified as Sahrawi citizens. The association considers this a
serious violation of human rights and fears that the two will join
the list of disappeared. It is calling on Canary Island
representative in the Spanish Parliament to demand an explanation
from the Minister of the Interior (Canarias7).
AFAPREDESA ( Association of families of disappeared and detained
Saharawis) states that these expulsions violate the Geneva
Convention, the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status
of Refugees and Spanish law.
«There is no landmine problem in Morocco»
According to Moroccan university researcher, Hassan Marchane, Morocco
does not suffer from the scourge of antipersonnel mines. He pointed
out that the planting of landmines in Western Sahara by the Moroccan
military poses no threat to civilians. He added that the army will
have no problem cleaning up the landmines because it possesses the
necessary plans and maps (MAP).
A group of staffers from the U.S. Congress, on invitation by
Morocco, arrived in occupied Western Sahara. Moroccan authorities
showed them Morocco 's technological accomplishments in the
territory, and held meetings with pro-Moroccan Sahrawi notables,
Sahrawi defectors and Moroccan observers with the Identification
An official visit to the United States by the Moroccan Prime Minister
is planned for April (Al-Ousbou, Moroccan daily).
Post reports that the well-known American lobbying firm Cassidy
& Associates suddenly terminated the $1.2 million contract that
it signed with Morocco last summer (Legal
Times, 13 July 1998). The firm simply stated that it had
completed its work, while the Washington Post journalist asks:
«Have the Kingdom of Morocco and Cassidy & Associates, one
of Washington's premier lobbying firms, been outflanked by a former
desert tribesman-turned-lobbyist ?» meaning Moulud Said,
Polisario Representative, who runs since several years a sucessfull
one man campaign for the Saharawi people, with no money.
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