WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 45

07.-13.11.1999

 

Sahrawi intifada (continued)
Foreign journalists arrived in early November to investigate the events in El Ayoun. They are reporting eye-witness accounts that confirm that the Sahrawi demands were political in nature. Slogans included "Long live the Sahrawi Republic" and the Moroccan flag was burned. A journalist of
El Pais met several of the injured (7.11); El Mundo (9.11) reported dozens of injured, and provided numerous photographs and a video as evidence. The Moroccan weekly Le Journal published (8.11) six photographs of injured residents of El Ayoun, victims of police brutality.
AFAPREDESA is distributing a provisional list of names including some 50 injured, by police brutality or rape, a dozen stores pillaged and over 40 homes ransacked.

05.11.99
France
The French Prime Minister stated in Marrakech, with respect to the Western Sahara, "As a country, were are committed, with our criteria, to the process initiated by the UN. If we can be helpful through our exchanges, discussions, then we will do so."
The results of the French visit: financial support in the form of debt cancellation (700 million francs converted into investments) and approximately 500 million FF in credits. The World Bank accords Morocco loans averaging $325 million annually and in 1998, "exceptionally" granted Morocco a US$450 million loan.

05.11.9
Human rights
The UN Human Rights Committee, in response to a report issued by Morocco, stated "The Committee continues to be concerned about the very slow pace of arrangements in preparation for a self-determination referendum in the Western Sahara as well as by the lack of information on the application of human rights in this region. It calls on Morocco to intensify its investigations into the fate of all those who disappeared and to free those who are still in detention. It urges that those responsible for the disappearances be brought to justice and that their families be compensated. It also recommends that strict measures be adopted to eradicate torture.

06.11.99
Royal speech
On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the "Green March," Mohammed VI stated: "We remain committed to the United Nations plan on condition that all persons native to the Sahara be included on the voters lists to participate in this referendum (.) We have committed ourselves to address the Western Sahara according to a new vision, that will ensure equity, objectivity and realism." The latter statement is interpreted by some as a step towards the development of an autonomy project".

05-06-07.11.99
The 25th European Coordinating Conference of Support to the Sahrawi People concluded in Las Palmas with the endorsement of a
final resolution. See also the Conference page with links to documents, speeches, etc. and the site of Sahara Press Service with press releases in French.

08-10.11.99
21st Socialist International Congress
A Sahrawi delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Ould Salek attended the Congress, where he was able to meet with and update delegation leaders on the latest developments regarding the referendum. In its general resolution, the Socialist International reaffirms its resolution on the Western Sahara adopted during the SI council in Geneva in 1998; supports the UN in terms of organizing a free, fair and transparent referendum on self-determination, in line with the terms of the Peace Plan and the Houston Agreement; calls for all parties concerned and particularly Morocco and the Polisario Front to cooperate fully with MINURSO to ensure a free, just, transparent and democratic referendum in the Western Sahara.

08-10.11.99
El Ayoun
Three days after the delegation of the royal commission charged with monitoring Saharan Affairs, including Basri, four ministries, Foreign Affairs, Islamic Affairs, Finance and Justice, visited El Ayoun and organized, on Monday, November 8, a press conference involving over 60 journalists brough in on a special flight. Their goal was to "present the basic outline of the new policy, based on respect for the law, transparency and democracy," and "to announce measures taken to respond to public demands." They stated that by means of "honest" elections they sought to involved the sons of the region in the management of the territory. Benaïssa broke a tabou by mentioning Moroccan soldiers being held as prisoners by the Polisario Front. With regard to the demonstrations at the end of September, the Minister of Justice admitted that they were "savagely repressed by the Moroccan police with help from colonists from the North." Concerning the arrests, conflicting numbers were announced: once 30, then 49, and then 23. Only 13 people are supposed still being held, accused of "rebellion." The Minister of Justice announced one ten-year prison sentence and 25 sentences of 15 years for "participation in the riots." Three indicted police officers were taken to Rabat.
On its side the Sahrawi Minister of the Occupied Territories published a provisional list of some 30 detainees.

09.11.99
Marrakech
Sahrawi students at Cadi Ayad university organized a sit-in in front of the Human Rights Defense Committee (CDDH) in Marrakech, demanding that their friends and family members be liberated, that charges be laid against those responsible for the exactions during the events in El Ayoun, and that an independent commission of inquiry be set up. The CDDH expressed that it was fully disposed to undertaking the necessary steps to answer these demands and to bring justice to the victims. (CCDH).

09.11.99
Basri's exit
Dismissal of the Minister of the Interior Driss Basri, replaced by the former director of National Security, Ahmed Midaoui, aged 51, assisted by a Secretary of State Fouad Ali Al Himma, aged 37, a personal friend of King Mohammed VI.
For the Sahrawi government, the dismissal of the Minister of the Interior should not "obscure the truth of the repression that is ongoing against our fellow citizens in the occupied territories and in Southern Morocco." Its press release adds that the change is simply tinkering and an attempt to manage internal dissension, "cosmetic touch-ups on a corrupt and archaic system that is seeking to boost its fortunes."
The Sahrawi Minister of Foreign Affairs qualifies Basri's departure as "symbolic," calling for real political change and not simply a change of personnel.
Brahim Ghali, Polisario representative in Spain, considers Basri's removal as the turning of a new page in Morocco and an important step forward, but hopes for the same "firmness and courage" in making the necessary decisions for the organization of a referendum that respects the UN's timetable.
Members of the Moroccan opposition are demanding that charges be laid against Basri for "crimes against humanity."

11.11.99
Basri received the sash of Ouissam Al-Arch directly from Mohamed VI.

11.11.99
Revelation
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported a case of arson, which occurred on October 29 at the headquarters of territorial surveillance (DST), which precipitated Basri's removal. The fire was lit in the archives which could have led to the destruction of documents concerning the management by the DST of special funds destined for Sahrawi notables allied to Rabat and partisans of the "Moroccaness" of the Sahara.

SOLIDARITY

Blanes, Catalonia, 25.10.99: The families that hosted Sahrawi children collectively introduced a motion with the municipal council calling for greater involvement of the Spanish State in promoting the referendum. The motion was passed unanimously.

Madrid,12-15.11.99: The Consejo de la Juventud de España (CJE) organized a training course for referendum observation in the Western Sahara. Sixty young Spaniards participated in the course.

Cantabrica, Espagne: The Sahrawi delegation is organizing, from December 1 to 7, a charter flight to the camps. Reservations can be made before November 20 at 942/33.34.03 or 608/87.79.19.

ON INTERNET

Daily updated Spanish press review by the Polisario bureau of Madrid: http://www.nodo50.org/fpolisario/Prensa.htm

NEW PUBLICATIONS

[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

General

Daily and Weekly

03-06.11.99

07.11.99

08.11.99

09.11.99

10.11.99

11.11.99

12.11.99

13.11.99

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