WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 17

25.04 - 01.05.1999

 

 

27.04.99
Secretary-General Report S/1999/483

On condition that the parties accept the identification and appeals protocoles as well as the operational directives harshly discussed in the last weeks, the S.G. considers that the referendum process can go ahead at following timetable:
- identification of remining applicants from 1 June 1999 to November 1999,
- appeals from 1 July 1999 to February 2000,
- transition period beginning in February 2000,
- vote in July 2000.
Nevertheless, Kofi Annan underlines that the success of this calendar is predicated upon many "critical asumptions", under others (see chap. 25) a rigorous programme of the identification "without the delays and interruptions experienced in the past; the expectation that the appeals process will not be turned into a second round of identification for all applicants found ineligible; the completion by end of 1999 of planning arrangements for repatriation; etc."
Expecting a positive answer of both parties, the S.G. proposes to the Security Council to extend the MINURSO mandate for six months. The parties had to convey their formal positions before 30 April 1999, date of expiration of the MINURSO mandate.

30.04.99
Security Council Resolution S/1999/1235

Missing the response from Morocco the Security Council adopts a technical resolution extending the MINURSO mandate until 14 May 1999.
The POLISARIO Front has precised that its agreement implies that "the appeals and identification process will go on in conditions of exemplary severity, transparency and fairness and that the Identification Commission will persue its mission with the same authority, independence and impartiality as in the past".
In a press release, Western Sahara Campaign, U.K., welcomes the report and shares the concern of the Secretary General about possible delays or disagreements in the implementation of the process.

28-29.04.99
Spanish-moroccan negociations

The 5th meeting of the Moroccan-Spanish Joint High Commission took place in Madrid. The Moroccan Prime minister and 11 members of his government participated. It was the first official visit of the Moroccan Prime minister in Spain. The decision of Morocco not to renew the four-year fishery accord between Morocco and the European Union on 30 November next was the main discussion matter. Morocco proposes an association agreement to Spain in order to develop the Moroccan fishery sector. Other important economical and political subjects were discussed.

In an open letter to the Spanish government European NGOs and solidarity groups denounce the complicity of Spain, which ignores the Moroccan brakes of the UN Peace Plan. The organisations ask the Spanish government to make pressures upon Morocco urging it:
- to apply the Peace Plan,
- to suspend all economical agreements concerning the territory of Western Sahara so long the decolonization is not concluded
- to froze economical aid to Morocco so long systematic human rights abuses are perpetrated in Western Sahara,
- to participate actively to MINURSO.
They finally denounced the attitude of the government of Spain which condemns the genocide in the Balkans and in the same time lets Hassan II oppress the Saharawi people.

The POLISARIO Front on its side accused the Moroccan government to try to associate the Spanish government for the exploitation of the fishing ressources of Western Sahara and asked Spain to connect its help to the progress made in the implementation of the UN settlement plan.

28.04.99
Prehistoric site

A scientific team including archaeologists and anthropologists of the University of Girona (Spain) has discovered a prehistoric site in Western Sahara (SADR). It is one of the largest sites worlwide with thousands of ca 10'000 years old engraved stones, covering an area 100-300 meters width over 30 kilometers in the region of Sluguilla Lawish, located 120 km west of Rabouni and 80 km east of Bir Lehlou. The pictures represent different animals and human figures.The scientific expedition has been supported by the Saharawi government and the army.

NEWS BRIEFS

28.04.99
Human rights

The first congress of the Arab Human Rights movement was held during 3 days in Morocco. The final declaration does not mention the human rights situation in this country, nor Western Sahara.

Suspicious deaths
A Saharawi student, Mohamed Limam ould Sidi Mohamed, died under obscure conditions in Russia where he lived. This young men, married to a Russian lady, prepared a PHD on nuclear energy. He had told his family to be threatened and his life was in danger. (Saharawi Ministry of Information)
The Moroccan official agency MAP informed on 26 March 1999 that another Saharawi, Bichrine Dah, was found lifeless at his home of Donesk,Ukrania. He was married with an Ukranian.

Ordinary repression
A Saharawi citizen, Malaïnine ould Bechir, disappeared from Tan-Tan and reappeared some days later in the jail of Agadir. No charges are known but his relatives declared he was put on file by special services, arrested in the past and closely followed by police.

Disappearance
According to AFAPREDESA two young Saharawis, Wadoud Abdeslam ould Sidachmed and Lahbib ould Legue, have been arrested near the Moroccan-Algerian border trying to reach the refugee camps on 9 April 1999. Their relatives have no later news.

First of May
Several members of the Committee of coordination of victims of forced disappearance in the secret jails of Galaat M'Gouna and El Ayoun participated to the maifestations of Labor Day in Casablanca. Most of them are former political prisoners detained for 16 years in secret jails. Since August 1998 they stay in Rabat to claim for justice and reparation.

Illegal exploitation
Since three years Morocco systematically exploits the sand of the Western Sahara coasts. Thousands of tons of sand are conveyed by ship to Moroccan touristic centers (SPS).

Training
Lawyers of the France-Liberté foundation will reach the regfugee camps to organise voter training courses. They will instruct a team which will be able to teach others (SPS).

Support
The wilaya (district) of Dakhla, located 150 km south of Rabouni has been fit out with a TV relay station. At early April Naama Zeinedine, Arseli Etxeguren and Julian Ozaeta, from the Bask Radioafficionados, installed together with technicians of the Saharawi National Broadcast a 25W transmitter operating with solar power and a 20 meters high aerial covering a radius of 10 kilometers.

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