WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 43

24.-30.10.1999

 

24.10.99
Occupied territories
The Sahrawi press agency SPS reports on the ongoing forced recruitment of young Sahrawis into the Moroccan army. Various pressure tactics are used to force the young Sahrawis to present themselves at recruiting offices opened specifically for this purpose. Some 180 Sahrawis from El Ayoun, between the ages of 20 to 25, were recently transferred to the Tifnit military training camp in Agadir. In June, 250 Sahrawi youths from Zag and Assa (Southern Morocco) and in October some 100 from El Ayoun, Tan-Tan and Assa were also recruited in this manner (
SPS).

25.10.99
Tan-Tan (Southern Morocco)
A press release from the Sahrawi Minister of the Occupied Territories and the Diaspora announced that over 300 Sahrawi youths organized a sit-in on October 23 in front of the Tan-Tan governorate, to demand the improvements to their living conditions and to demonstrate their support for the victims of the repression in El Ayoun. The demonstration was dispersed by the police and army, but was resumed the following day, this time without police intervention. On day 25 the demonstrators pursued their action, erecting two large tents in front of the official buildings. The Moroccan daily
Rissalat al-Oumma mentionned the demonstration.

25.10.99
24th anniversary of the Green March
The Minister of the Occupied Territories and the Diaspora launched an appeal to the Sahrawi community around the world to demonstrate its solidarity with the victims of Moroccan repression and to honour the memory of Mohamed ould Cheikh ould Aleyat. Born in 1953, this Sahrawi warrant officer in the Moroccan army, was found hanged in El Ayoun just after the September riots. The Moroccan authorities had criticized him for being sympathetic to his fellow citizens. Silent marches will take place in each wilaya on October 31, the anniversary of the Moroccan invasion of the Western Sahara, and there will be a minute of silence at 12:00, UT.

25.10.99
A new body: Royal Commission for Sahrawi Affairs
Chaired by the King, this newly created commission includes Prime Minister Youssoufi, Minister of the Interior Basri, Minister of Islamic Affairs M'Daghri Alaoui, Minister of Justice Azzimane, Commander of the royal police, General Benslimane, Commander of the southern military zone, General Bennani, Director General of headquarters of investigation and documentation (counter-espionnage), General Kadiri, and Benhachem, director general of national security. This body allocated a budget to fight poverty, facilitate the transportation of Sahrawi students and help the disabled. It named a technical committee to improve conditions in the "unity camps." The commission decided to "revitalize" the Royal Consultative Council on Saharan Affairs and to make it more representative. This organization, created by Hassan II in 1981, is composed of 85 members (six from each Sahrawi tribe) designated by the parliament, local councils, the tribes and the zaouias, and is responsible for dealing with Saharan issues. Its membership will be renewed by "elections" and will be represented within the royal commission.

Reaction
The Sahrawi Minister of Information, in a press release published on October 27, criticized Morocco's "intention to organize elections to establish a so-called Royal Consultative Council" in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara and considers this initiative "a flagrant violation of provisions of the UN/OAU settlement plan."

Comment
Ach-Chark al-Awsat (a Saudi daily out of London) underlines that the Minister of the Interior is no longer exclusively in control of the Sahrawi issue, even though Basri sits on the new commission. It is of note that the commission also includes the Minister of Islamic Affairs who received, towards the end of Hassan II's reign, Sahrawi delegations in Rabat to present their concerns regarding the administrative management of the southern provinces. Corroborating sources indicated that the Minister aggressively criticized the Minister of the Interior and local authorities during a government meeting in September. Observers see these developments as a kind of ministerial shuffle as a prelude to an expected government shake-up, that is currently a topic of much discussion in Rabat circles (
press review by the French embassy in Rabat, 29.10.99).

27.10.99
Morocco
"Sahrawi citizens (defectors from Tindouf, children and widows of deceased members of the military killed in action and victims of landmines) have been demonstrating since 24.10 for jobs, housing and the right to participate in political life. They are refusing any dialogue with the Minister of the Interior, whose promises are "false." They argue that the "only beneficiaries in the Saharan provinces are the presidents of communal councils and representatives in parliament," who do not address the real issues. The martyrs' children and widows are protesting against their meagre allowances, no more than 800 DH, while landmine victims are denouncing the absence of any compensation or medical assistance. The protesters have been set up outside the Club Yasmine of Harhoura-Temara for the last two weeks (
Al-Ahdath al-Maghribia, Moroccan daily, cited by the press review by the French embassy in Rabat).

27.10.99
According to French journalist Stephen Smith, the United States have put their "third solution" (a negotiated agreement between Morocco and Polisario) in order not to challenge and possibly weaken Mohammed VI early in his reign (
Libération).

28.10.99
European Parliament
The European Union's "Peace for the Sahrawi People" intergroup, reconstituted following the elections, held its first session under the presidency of Mrs Margot Kessler, Germany, PSE.

28.10.99
Kofi Annan received M'Hamed Khaddad, Sahrawi coodinator with MINURSO, at the UN headquarters, who transmitted a message from President Abdelaziz regarding the tens of thousands of appeals submitted by Morocco as well as the recent events in El Ayoun.

28.10.99
Interim report by the Secretary-General on the Western Sahara
S/1999/1098
Kofi Annan stated that progress has been made in the identification of the contested tribes, with 29,818 individuals having been identified. This operation should be completed by the end of December. With regard to appeals, the Secretary-General announced that there have been 79,125 appeals, including 65,072 against exclusion and 14,053 against inclusion. Only 6% of the appeals come from the Sahrawi side. Most are not based on new facts but rely on witnesses. Processing this "very large number" of appeals will take 10 to 12 months, without taking into account appeals from applicants from the contested tribes. Mr. Annan wrote that under these conditions, it is highly probable that the appeals process will be long, involving all persons refused in the first round as well as a large number of applicants whose inclusion in the provisional list has been questioned. This will have repercussions in terms of personnel, finances and the implementation calendar. He emphasized that everything will depend on the outcome of assessment of the admissibility of the appeals, adding that the consequences of implementing the appeals procedure must be closely examined. In early December, Mr. Annan will make a realistic assessment of what should be done.

For Ahmed Boukhari, POLISARIO representative to the UN, Morocco continues to use stalling tactics by inundating MINURSO with appeals. If they are declared admissible, the referendum could be delayed by two years. Rigorous application of identification protocols should lead to the rejection of almost all the appeals.

29.10.99
Chirac in Morocco
French President Jacques Chirac, preceding Jospin by a few days, met with King Mohammed VI during a brief private visit to Morocco. It was officially stated that the two leaders brought up regional questions including the Western Sahara.

SOLIDARITY

17.10.99, Rome, Italy: the national conference "Peace in the Western Sahara and Self-determination for the Saharawi people", held in Rome, with Mohamed Sidati, Minister Councellor to the President of the SADR present, adopted a platform. The National Association of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People was reorganized in the form of a federation open to all solidarity organizations with the Sahrawi people. A new 18-member executive was elected, chaired by Luciano Ardesi.

21, 22 and 23.10.99, San Sebastian, Spain: Meeting of the executive of the Collective of Western Saharan Students (CESO) in order to prepare for their annual meeting, scheduled for December 26 to 30. CESO's goal is raise the profile of the Sahrawi situation.

COMING UP

Spain: the Union of Sahrawi Youth and the Spanish Youth Council organized an awareness-raising tour in Spain on the situation of Sahrawi youths, which will kick-off during the 3e Foro Eurolatinoamericano de Juventud in Mollina. Visits are scheduled in Extramadura, Castille and Leon, Andalucia and Madrid. Contact : jmartin@cje.org

12.11.99
Manifestation in Oviedo on the 24th anniversary of the Madrid accords organised by the Association of the Friends of the Sahara of Asturias.

INTERNET

MESSAGE from the UJSARIO to the Saharawi students all over the world:
«We have opened an e-mail address in order to encourage relationship and exchage of information between Saharawi students abroad. Following address <
shujsario@netscape.net> will be available to all Saharawi students who ask mmouloud@netscape.net for a password».

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