WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 11

14.-20.03.1999

 

12.03.99
Visit

Following the inauguration of a local radio station at Tindouf, the Algerian Minister of Communication and Culture visited the Sahrawi refugee camps. Abdelaziz Rahabi was greeted at the February 27 School by his Sahrawi counterpart. Fadel Ismaïl paid tribute to Algeria for its "unwavering, clear and unconditional" support. The Algerian delegation visited the Sahrawi national radio and held a working meeting with a Sahrawi delegation. (Sahrawi Ministry of Information, APS)

12.03.99
Abdelaziz in the United States

Mohamed Abdelaziz told Washington that the Sahrawi people still support a free, fair and transparent referendum. "Contrary to the Moroccan party, we have made numerous concessions and fully cooperated with the UN," Abdelaziz pointed out, calling on the United States to exercise its influence to ensure that the referendum is held in accordance with the schedule set out by the Houston Agreements.
The Sahrawi President was speaking during a breakfast meeting organized by the Defence Forum Foundation at the offices of Congress. Donald Payne, a Democratic representative in the House of Representatives who sits on its Africa Subcommittee, introduced the Sahrawi President to the large audience, including Edward Royce, Chair of the Africa Subcommittee, and Joseph Pitts, member of the House of Representatives. Also in attendance were former American members of MINURSO and diplomats. Major Scott Tate proposed that the U.S. government cut all economic aid to Morocco until Morocco accepts the UN proposals. Donald Payne reaffirmed Congress's support for the Sahrawi cause, calling Morocco's behaviour unacceptable. He stated that while Morocco is a U.S. ally, it supports the right to self-determination. (APS, Sahrawi Ministry of Information)

13.03.99
France

The French association, Friends of SADR, repeated its determination to promote a "fair and honest" referendum in Western Sahara, which requires "the mobilization" of European governments. The association president, Francis Jacob, denounced Morocco's "intransigence" and the "complicity of certain Western countries, including France and Spain," who are not helping to speed up the UN peace process. (APS)

14.03.99
Spain

During his trip to Madrid, Sahrawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz stated in an interview with the Madrid daily El Pais that he "hoped the Spanish government would adopt a position similar to the Portuguese government's with respect to East Timor. Lisbon showed great courage which led to concrete results. Recent developments on this issue demonstrate once again that self-determination is an inalienable right."

15.03.99
Algiers

The President of the SADR announced during a stopover in Algiers that the UN is making a massive effort "to successfully conclude the Western Sahara peace process." He reiterated that "SADR has the legitimate right to take up arms again to defend its inalienable rights and its national sovereignty in the Western Sahara." He pointed out, "We are one week away from the deadline given to Morocco to respond to unresolved issues regarding the organization of the referendum in Western Sahara."

16.03.99
Morocco's nuclear aspirations

The Spanish government and the autonomous region of the Canaries are disturbed by a proposed project to build a nuclear station in Tan Tan to desalinate sea water. Moroccan experts have stated "The nuclear option is a concrete initiative that poses no danger." (Libération, Moroccan daily)

16.03.99
U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton will end her 2-week trip to North Africa with a visit to Morocco from March 27 to April 1. (see urgent action)

17.03.99
Mine clearing

The Moroccan army and MINURSO signed an accord on March 12 to clear minesfrom non-military zones in the Western Sahara. The accord excludesminefields along the Moroccan wall. The agreement stipulates exchange ofinformation on the location of mines and their destruction by the Moroccanarmy. (Reuters)

17.03.99
Resignation of Charles Dunbar

The special representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Western Sahara, Charles Dunbar, is resigning after a little more than a year in the position. He is stepping down for personal reasons. (AFP, Reuters, El Pais, El Mundo)

19.03.99
Saharawi Parliament
After a three days session, the Saharawi National Council adopted the government's program for 1999. In his closure speech, the Saharawi head of State informed the parliament about the recent developments of the peace process, the resignation of the special representative Mr Charles Dunbar and the imminent acceptance of the UN proposals by Morocco. On the other hand, Abdelaziz announced the holding "before next summer" of the tenth Congress of the Polisario Front. He insisted on the necessity to stay watchfull and to be prepared to anything and appealed to the youth already to prepare itself to take responsibilities in the future state (Sahrawi Ministry of Information).

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