WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 44

31.10.-06.11.1999

 

 

30.10.-04.11.99
Sahrawi "intifada"
Since the night of October 30, El Ayoun has once again become a theatre of bloody confrontations between Sahrawis and Moroccan occupation forces. Hundreds of people peacefully demonstrating against Moroccan repression and policy, were violently dispersed on the evening of October 30 by the police and army.
The next day, new demonstrations were held in response to a call by the Polisario Front to observe a minute of silence in memory of the martyr Mohamed Cheikh Aleyiat, who died during the riots in September. The Moroccan flag, flying above the new administrative headquarters in the "Maatallah," an overcrowded Sahrawi district, was burned. The Sahrawi demonstrators shouted out the slogans "Invaders out of the country" and "The Western Sahara is not East Timor." About 100 demonstrators were arrested and numerous others injured. Police entered and ransacked several Sahrawi homes. Major material damage was incurred.
The demonstrations continued for several days in El Ayoun, leading to a number of injuries, some serious, and more arrests. Other demonstrations were held in Zak, Tan-Tan (southern Morocco), Agadir and Marrakech. In Rabat, some 200 Sahrawi students demonstrated on November 4 in front of the parliament to demand a halt to "police brutality" in El Ayoun, and to call for a judicial inquiry and legal action against the police responsible for the violence.
The Moroccan Human Rights Organization (OMHD) lodged a complaint with the Attorney General for "breach of domicile, arbitrary and unlawful confinement and torture" following the demonstrations that shook El Ayoun in September.

01.11.99
Canary Islands: illegal immigration
At least 2200 illegal immigrants have arrived on Fuerteventura island since the beginning of the year, coming from Southern Morocco and Western Sahara. Without identity papers, these immigrants arrive on the Canary Islands after 10- to 20-hour trip in small boats, brought to the islands by smugglers charging $300 per person. The illegal immigrants are in principle expelled to Morocco. Some of the Sahrawis have asked for political asylum. The Spanish Minister of the Interior has referred to a mafioso traffic in immigrants from Morocco to the Canaries, organized by drug traffickers and arms merchants.

01.11.99
Referendum
Processing appeals must not in any way violate the accords signed last May between the Polisario Front and Morocco, stated Sahrawi coodinator with MINURSO, M'hamed Khaddad, on Voice of America. According to these accords, he said, each applicant must fulfil certain conditions and above be able to point to new elements that were not considered by the identification commission during the preceding phase. Mr. Khaddad said the flood of over 78,000 requests for appeal is an act that contradicts the Security Council's recommendations.
When asked if the latest changes involving the Moroccan coordinator with MINURSO would have any positive repercussions on the situation in the occupied territories, he stated that the change was not fundamental but rather a Moroccan administrative reorganization, aimed at managing sensitivities between the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Palace.

02.11.99
Security Council
During a closed-door session, the Security Council studied the Secretary-General's report. Several members of the Council expressed their concern about the high number of appeals being made by Morocco, according to a credible diplomatic source. The Security Council will wait for Kofi Annan's report in December before making a decision.The Saharwi coodinator with MINURSO, M'hamed Khaddad was received the President of the Security Council, Danilo Turk, Slovenia. He gave him a memorandum expressing the Polisario's Front's opposition to any further delays in the referendum.

02.11.99
"Saharan affairs"
Prime Minister Youssoufi chaired a ministerial meeting to review questions related to the "southern provinces" in terms of housing, employment and improvements in students' conditions. This meeting falls within the framework of the implementation of decisions by the Royal commission charged with monitoring Saharan affairs.

03.11.99
Royal Commission on the Sahara
A delegation from the Royal Commission on the Sahara travelled to El Ayoun and Tan-Tan. Composed of Driss Basri, Minister of the Interior, Abdelkébir M'daghri Alaoui, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Fathallah Oualalou, Minister of the Economy and Finance, Division General Housni Bensliman, Commander of the royal police, Division General Abdelaziz Bennani, Commander of the southern zone, Brigade General Ahmed Kourima, General Inspector of the auxiliary forces for southern zone and Abdelhafid Benhachem, Director General of national security (police), the delegation met with elected officials, judicial entities, chioukhs, teachers, parent associations, etc.
The Minister of the Interior asked residents of the area for calm and discipline, as Morocco is going through a "difficult period" and its enemies should not be given an opportunity to mislead. He announced the upcoming visit of Prince Moulay Rachid and Princess Lalla Meriem. The Minister of Islamic Affairs stated that Morocco has adopted a new policy on the Sahara, based on transparency, realism and objectivity. He criticized the "errors of government action in the Sahara," stating that "it is necessary to acknowledge these errors, have the courage to admit mistakes were made and to ask that those responsible account for their actions." Driss Basri stated during a meeting with local elected officials that the referendum would be postponed for "two to three years."

04.11.99
Referendum
The UN confirmed that the self-determination referendum in the Western Sahara would most likely be put off for at least several months. UN spokesperson Fred Eckhard cited the fact that 79,000 people were appealing their exclusion from the voter's list, stated that this would very likely postpone the referendum.
"Morocco is determined to kill the referendum by using the appeals weapon, stated Ahmed Boukhari, Sahrawi representative to the UN, adding that the declaration made by Basri "is a provocation that proves that Morocco is absolutely not interested in a referendum." He added that the Polisario Front is willing to accept, at most, a technical delay of 2 to 3 months.

04.11.99
French Prime Minister visits Morocco
The first working session of the 3rd Franco-Moroccan governmental summit in Fès was devoted to international subjects "between friends." On the issue of the Western Sahara and the recent postponement of the self-determination referendum, the French side emphasized that that particular consultation was not "technically prepared" and that events should not be rushed. (AP).

05-07.11.99, Las Palmas, 25th European Coordinating Conference of Support to the Sahrawi People
The 25th conference opened with the participation of Sahrawi president Mohamed Abdelaziz and many foreign delegations from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. There were representatives from the US Congress, Swedish parliament and the regional parliaments of Spain. Nobel laureate José Ramos Horta was also present. In his opening speech, Mohamed Sidati, Minister Counsellor of the Presidency, talked about the violence that continues to wrack the occupied territories and the anti-Sahrawi repression. He denounced the Moroccan strategy aimed at again postponing the referendum for years. The delegates will focus for three days on humanitarian aid, human rights, observation of the referendum and political dimensions of the Sahrawi question.

05.11.99
Las Palmas
During a press conference, Mohamed Abdelaziz talked about the growing "intifada" among the Sahrawi people in the occupied territories and denounced the wave of repression against the Sahrawis demanding their legitimate rights to self-determination and independence. He stressed that 60 Sahrawis had been given heavy sentences the day before for their peaceful involvement in the demonstrations in El Ayoun and other areas of the Western Sahara and southern Morocco. As for the renewal of fishing agreements between the EU and Morocco, the Sahrawi President denounced the "blackmail" used by Morocco against Spain.

SOLIDARITY

29.10.99, Olivenza, a province of Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain: Establishment of the Asociacion oliventina de ayuda al pueblo saharaui. Information: Jose Condiño Sopa <jcondino@ceme.es>

02.11.99, Santander: University of Cantabrica is housing the Cantabrician observatory for a free, transparent and impartial referendum in the Western Sahara. This organization will recruit volunteers to participate as observers in the referendum.

NEW ON INTERNET

La Pagina oficial de la 25 Conferencia Europea de Coordinacion del Apoyo al Pueblo Saharaui, Las Palmas, 05, 06, 07.11.99: http://www.telecan.es/sahara

Sahara Press Service : http://www.citeweb.net/spsinfo

El Consejo de la Juventud de España: nueva página web sobre su campaña de observadores juveniles internacionales para el referéndum en el Sahara Occidental: http://www.cje.org/cri/sahara.html

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