WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 28

11.-17.07.1999

 

09-10.07.99
35th OAU Summit - Council of Ministers

In his report, the OAU Secretary General stated that he hoped the settlement plan would be "pursued in a serious manner to avoid another impasse."
In his speech, the Sahrawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Ould Salek, stressed the OAU's responsibilities, including its role in ensuring the UN referendum calendar is respected. (SPS)

Mr. Triki, Secretary of the Comité Populaire des Relations Extérieures of Libya, stated his country's past and ongoing support for the UN in its efforts to organize a free and fair referendum in the Western Sahara.

Sahrawi delegation
The Sahrawi delegation at the Summit, was led by SADR President, Mohamed Abdelaziz, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Salem ould Salek, the Minister of Information Fadel Ismaïl, the Minister Counsellor of the Presidency Mohamed Sidati, the official in charge of relations with the UN M'hamed Khaddad, the ambassador to Algeria Khalil Sid M'hamed, the ambassador to the OAU Alien Kentaoui, the representative to the US Mouloud Saïd and the representative to Madagascar Boukhreis.

11.07.99
Algeria-Morocco

Algerian President Bouteflika, in an interview with the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, stated that he will be meeting with King Hassan II shortly, and has asked him to "dissociate, at least temporarily, bilateral relations from the Sahara question." He said, "I think that if the Sahrawis and Moroccans accept the UN plan as well as the role of James Baker and the UN Secretary General, it will be possible to resolve the Sahara question. It's simply a question of implementing international decisions and if the referendum is held, the problem will be solved and order will be restored." (AFP, MAP)
During an official visit to France, Hassan II confirmed that he would meet "very soon" with Mr. Bouteflika, and added that the reopening of the border between the two countries, closed since 1994, may even happen "before this meeting."

12.07.99
In an interview with the Algerian daily El Watan, the Sahrawi President stated that "the last word rests not with the Polisario Front, nor with Morocco or even the United Nations, but with the Sahrawi people, who will declare their sovereign power over their destiny." Asked if he would accept direct negotiations with Morocco, Mr. Abdelaziz indicated that he would be favourable as long as the objective was "to contribute to the implementation, and not substitution, of the plan." (SPS)

12-14.07.99
35th OAU Summit of heads of state and governments

The Sahrawi President reiterated his country's willingness to cooperate with the UN and OAU and called on the OAU to pursue its efforts to ensure the new calendar is respected so as to avoid another derailment of the process. (SPS)

Outside the Summit, President Abdelaziz spoke with Kofi Annan asking him to demonstrate "greater rigor and seriousness in the implementation of the UN calendar". He also met with Libyan leader Mohamar Kaddafi, as well as the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Benin, Swaziland, Niger, Comoro Islands, Seychelles, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Sudan, Namibia, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africaand the prime ministers of Ethiopia, Mauritius and Kenya. (SPS)

In the "Algiers Declaration," adopted at the close of the Summit, the African leaders affirmed "the validity and durability of the principle of respecting the integrity of the borders inherited at independence" and their "support for rapid implementation" of the UN settlement plan for the Western Sahara.
Asked at the close of the Summit what Algeria's position is on the Western Sahara, Mr. Bouteflika stated "Algeria is calling for implementation of the UN resolutions and Houston Agreements as promptly and rapidly as possible. (SPS)

12.07.99
Never forget!

In a press release issued during Hassan II's visit to France, AFAPREDESA pointed out that 526 Sahrawi civilians are still disappeared and "a dozen ex-disappeared Sahrawi (...) have been living from hand to foot in a hotel in Rabat, refusing to be forgotten and determined to see the truth triumph about the situation of all Sahrawi ex-disappeared." The statement concludes that Morocco's reference to democracy is no more than a façade.

15.07.99
Referendum - Publication of voters lists and appeals process

MINURSO's press service in El Ayoun announced that the "Special Representative of the UN Secretary General has communicated to the parties the partial provisional voters list, and that the appeals procedures can get underway."
The list includes 84 251 names, identified between August 28, 1994 and September 3, 1998. Appeals, which can be presented by applicants on the basis of their exclusion from the list or against the inclusion of others, must be submitted within the next 6 weeks in the 5 centres open in El Ayoun, Goulimine, Tan-Tan, the Smara camp, and in Nouadhibou, or sent to one of three postal boxes in El Ayoun, Tindouf or Nouadhibou.

Reactions
SADR: an important step
The Sahrawi press agency stated that of the 84 251 people on the list, 33,786 (40%) are in the refugee camps, 46 255 (55%) are in the occupied territories and Morocco and 4210 (5%) are in Mauritania. It points out that COSAR, the Sahrawi referendum commission, stated that the publication, on schedule, of the provisional list was an "important step" and expressed its hope that "the other stages will be scrupulously respected." (SPS)

Morocco: success and contestation
In a press release, the Minister of the Interior Driss Basri stated that "Morocco has clearly been successful" as the Identification Commission has noted that "the majority of Sahrawis are indeed in Morocco." The revised lists do not correspond to the numbers previously reported by MINURSO to the parties, and the Moroccan government is accusing "certain" members of the Identification Commission with "open complicity" and accuses the Commission President, Robert Kinloch, of having carried out "successive and drastic cuts in a systematic and deliberate manner." Morocco "condemns and vociferously denounces any diversion of the identification process. It will use all legitimate and legal means to restore the rights of some 4000 Sahrawis" excluded from the provisional list.
Responding to journalists during a press conference, Driss Basri accused certain members of the Identification Commission with bias in favour of Polisario. He claimed that Mr. Kinloch "is trying to implement a plan that reduces the number of applicants on the Moroccan side." Basri confirmed that half the applicants on the Moroccan side were rejected and will appeal (that is, 50 000 applicants!)

NEWS BRIEFS

COMING UP...

Cuba
The 6th session of the joint commission for scientific, technical and economic cooperation between Cuba and the SADR will take place from July 19 to 22 in Havana. The meeting will be devoted to cooperation in the areas of health and education. Cuban and the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic aim to boost bilateral cooperation in the 6th session of a joint commission for scientific, technical and economic cooperation, to be held in Havana on July 19-22. Cuban Vice-Minister of Foreign Investment. and Economic Cooperation Noemi Benitez, head of the Cuban delegation, said the meeting will discuss existing cooperation in health, education and other sectors. Sahrawi Minister of Education Salek Bobbih will head his country's delegation in commission's work sessions.

SOLIDARITY

11.07.99, Barcelona: Catalonia's sixth solidarity caravan set off for the camps with 5 trucks, 7 busses and a fire engine carrying 19 tons of essential supplies.

14-18.07.99, Viana do Castelo, Portugal: a delegation of the Saharawi Youth organisation participated, together with delegations of Eastern Timor, Guinea Bissao, Angola, Cap Verde and Gernmany, to a meeting against racism organised by the portugese antiracist group.

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