U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright met with the U.N.
Secretary-General during his visit to Washington. Western Sahara was
on the agenda.
23rd anniversary of the Sahrawi Republic
Refugee camps - liberated zones
Commemorative events were decentralized, with each wilaya choosing
its own activities to celebrate the event, including artistic and
cultural contests. In the liberated zones, units of the Sahrawi
liberation army practiced manoeuvres. Sahrawi embassies and foreign
bureaus held receptions or cultural events. (Sahrawi Ministry of
Information press release)
Austria: Reception in Vienna
The minister responsible for the status of women and consumer
protection, Barbara Prammer along with ambassadors, parliamentarians
and Austrian NGOs were present at the event. Prammer reaffirmed the
Austrian people's support for the Sahrawi. Polisario Front
representative Salek Seghir Radhi thanked all those who have
supported the Sahrawi since the time of Bruno Kreisky.
Rabat: Incidents at the university
According to a number of reports, Sahrawi students from the Souissi 1
university campus in Rabat held a gathering on the evening of
February 26. A fight broke out between the Sahrawi and Moroccan
students. It took the CMIs (mobile police units) until 3:00 a.m. to
disperse the students, leading to injuries among both demonstrators
and police. The Moroccan press reported at least 11 arrests.
The injured, some of whom are still in hospital, included Bak el
Hafed, Bak Naama, Baihi Bachir, Mustapha Ahmednah Jamaa, El Hafed El
Maaloul, El Alaoui Abdelwahab, Ballal Moustapha, Mesbah Ahmadou,
Mesbah Moulay Ahmed and Mohamed Bentaleb.
On the morning of March 1, Sahrawi students gathered and refused to
disperse until they had received an explanation. Abdelaziz
Aallabouch, director general of national security (responsible for
the CMI) arrived later that evening and promised to meet the students
on March 8. Sahrawi student demonstrations continued through March 4.
Switzerland: Reception in Geneva
Numerous participants included canton and municipal authorities,
members of parliament and diplomats.
Speech by Hassan II
On the 38th anniversary of his enthronement, the King of Morocco
announced he was "firmly committed to the United Nations peace plan,"
which he said should lead to a referendum "that will confirm the
Moroccanness of our Sahara." He added, "Morocco is absolutely
determined to follow the referendum route; there is no other option."
"On the one hand, Morocco says it is ready to support the peace plan,
as the Moroccan king just announced. On the other, it does nothing to
facilitate its execution," stated the Sahrawi Minister of
Information. "We demand that Morocco prove its stated support for the
peace plan," said Fadel Ismaïl, adding, "Morocco is convinced
that the referendum will come out in favour of Western Saharan
independence, so it does not want to come out and agree to the UN
proposals, but it cannot say no to them because that would only
increase its international isolation and facilitate the Sahrawi
Republic's ambition to hold a seat at the United Nations."
During its 49th Congress, held in Brussels from March 3 to 5, the
Liberal International adopted two resolutions on the Western Sahara
and decided to send observers for the referendum. In the context of
the United Nations Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism, which
ends in the year 2000, the L.I . called for the withdrawal of
Indonesian troops from East Timor and of the Moroccan army from the
Western Sahara as well as for respect for the right of the Sahrawi
people to self-determination (full
text ) . In its resolution on the Western Sahara, the Congress
called on Morocco to accept the proposals by the UN and the European
Union calling on it to increase its support for the referendum
process (full text).
In his comment Minister M.Sidati
estimed that these resolutions strengthen the international consensus
around the W.S. question. He urges the European Union to intervene in
order to move away the true danger induced by the Moroccan attitude.
To extricate itself from the impasse it has created, Morocco is
desperately looking for arguments to justify its rejection of Kofi
Annan's plan. It wants to torpedo the plan by calling into question
the validity of the census. And it has found an ally in Emilio
Cuevas, the Spanish colonel responsible for the 1974 census, who
considers it "incomplete". Cuevas first gave an interview to Le
Figaro on February 6. Then, a Spanish journalist, contacted by the
Moroccan Ministry of the Interior, met with Cuevas in Rabat, in the
home of one of the ministry's senior civil servants. Cuevas said, "My
statements are an expression of gratitude toward Morocco and of
bitterness toward the UN." The former Spanish civil servant was a
consultant to MINURSO until 1994 when he left in frustration because,
in his opinion, the organization did not appreciate his abilities.
The Spanish ministry of foreign affairs considers Cuevas's claim that
"far more than half of the population counted in the census" lived
outside the territory of the Western Sahara, as "greatly
exaggerated." (Le Figaro, Paris, ABC, Madrid, Die TAZ, Berlin)
Italy, Rome: 09.03.99 :Amnesty International: presentazione del
programma per l'anno 1999.
-Campagna USA: Diritti per tutti
-Azione Marocco-Sahara Occidentale
Interventi di Riccardo Noury della Sezione Italiana di A.I. e di Gaia
Pallottino della Associazione Nazionale Italiana di
Solidarietà con il Popolo Saharawi, 09.03.99 ore 17,30, Casa
Valdese, via A.Farnese,18, Roma.
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