WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 09

28.02. - 06.03.1999

 

24.02.99
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.

27.02.99
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.

03.03.99
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."

04.03.99
Sahrawi statement

"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." (AFP)

05.03.99
Liberal International

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.

Referendum
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)

COMING UP...

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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