WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 50

12.-18.12.1999

 

10.12.99
Italy
71 parliamentarians representing 6 parties in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate addressed a letter to the Security Council, care of Kofi Annan, calling on it to reject another postponement in the referendum as a result of the high number of appeals.

11.12.99
Referendum
Murcia, Spain: The referendum support organization has already signed up some 100 people as observers for the referendum in the Western Sahara. Their goal is to recruit 200 observers.

11.12.99
Morocco-disappearances
A protest march was organised in Tan-Tan with a sit-in front of the provincial administrative headquarters, in protest against the disappearances in Tan-Tan and El Ayoun (see
week 49) (Sahrawi Ministry of the Occupied Territories). According to reliable sources Cheikh Kaya, Brahim Najem Laghzal and Larbi Saïd stay in the prison of Inezgane near Agadir.

12.12.99
Lesotho-SADR
The Lesotho Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mostohae Thomas Tabane, was received in the wilaya of Smara by his Sahrawi counterpart, the wali and other Sahrawi notables. The Minister restated Lesotho's support for the Sahrawis' cause and their right to independence. He also met with the Sahrawi President (
SPS).

14.12.99
France
AFASPA intervened with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Moroccan ambassador in France, demanding that they take steps to ensure the immediate release of those arrested December 6 in Tan-Tan, El Ayoun and Agadir. Nizkor Spain, a human rights organization, also launched an urgent action for their release.

14.12.99
Panama
Participating in the festivities marking the transfer of the Panama Canal from the United State to Panama, the SADR ambassador to Panama expressed congratulations on behalf of the President of the SADR. The Sahrawi delegation met with many of the government delegations participating in the event, including Mexico, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic.

14.12.99
Security Council Resolution
S/RES/1282 (1999)
On the basis of recommendations made in the Secretary General's last report, the Security Council has decided to extend MINURSO's mandate until 29 February 2000. It expressed concern about the likely postponement of the referendum (2002 or later) which it attributes to the large number of appeals as well as to "the opposing positions take by the parties on the issue of admissibility." It recommended to Kofi Annan to pursue the negotiations in order to seek a reconciliation on the outstanding issues. Proposals from Namibia were only partially accepted. Its representative to the Security Council proposed two amendments to the resolution, calling on the Council to express its concern regarding a delay until 2002 of the referendum as a result of the high number of appeals, and to call on the Secretary-General to find a solution through the application of the protocols on appeals, to enable a referendum within a reasonable timeframe.
Martin Andjaba (Namibia), who abstained from the final vote, expressed his disappointment that the Security Council did not even refer to his previous recommendation (
S/RES/1263, paragr. 1), namely "that the appeals process will not be turned into a second round of identification."

15.-16.12.99
Initial reactions
Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Front representative to the United Nations, in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Security Council, emphasized that this resolution creates serious problems, raises new concerns and does not reflect the current status of the Settlement Plan, since, he stressed, the vital issue at this stage still lies in the huge number of appeals presented by the Moroccan side to the UN mission for the organization of the referendum in Western Sahara. He stated that this resolution in no way contributes to reinforcing the Sahrawi people's confidence in the UN to organize a free, fair and impartial referendum (
aps, BBC).

The European coordinating committee for support to the Sahrawi people, in a letter addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, points out that the UN's argument is aligned with the demands made by the Moroccan party, and is based on opposing positions between the conflicting parties, rather than on the Houston Accords and the operational guidelines regarding the implementation of the appeals procedure, S/1999/483 Add. 1, signed by the parties. It urged Belgium, which supported the UN in its mission in the Western Sahara and who has a general currently heading the MINURSO peacekeepers, to take action, in collaboration with the European Union, in order to find a just and lasting solution to the final case of decolonization on the African continent.

The Intergroup of the European Parliament "Peace for the Saharawi People" met in Strasbourg in presence of the Saharawi Minister Counsellor to the Presidence Mohamed Sidati. The participants deplored the Moroccan manoeuvre delaying, or even preventing, the implementation of the referendum. They estimed that obviously Morocco does not work together with the UN, as shown in the last SG report. The Intergroup insisted on the necessity for the UN to show firmness and to handle resolutely in the Western Sahara file. The European deputee Mrs Karin Scheele, told about her recent visit in the refugee camps and the liberated zones of SADR. She met with a people attached to its right of freedom, waiting anxiously to choose its fate, she told. (communique of the Polisario office for Benelux and EU)

Morocco
"Morocco has repeatedly voiced its unwavering stand in protecting the right of all candidates turned down by the identification commission to appeal, said Moroccan ambassador to the UN, Ahmed Snoussi. Snoussi told MAP in the wake of adoption by the Security council of a resolution maintaining MINURSO through February 2000, he had insisted on lighter appeal procedures and fairer hearings to enable applicants to defend their rights. "Morocco, which remains attached to the (UN) settlement plan, is concerned by the delay in the referendum process," Moroccan Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister, Mohamed Benaissa, said in New York." (
MAP)

Moroccan press review
Al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki (USFP) 15.12.99: Delay in the referendum in the Moroccan Sahara: The informational and diplomatic battle... Morocco is facing a great battle, particularly because certain parties are intervening to support the separatists: for instance, Spain is backroom dealing at the Security Council against Morocco's legitimate rights, in retaliation for Morocco's refusal to renew the fishing accord... At the heart of the matter is the conflict over voter identification . The publication of the provisional voters' list will become the site of a bloody battle, and Morocco must be prepared.
Le Matin du Sahara, 16.12.99: Morocco concerned about delays in the referendum process.
Al-Bayane (P.P.S) 16.12.99: Another session for MINURSO. Rabat is ringing the alarm. There is nothing to worry about as long as the UN manages this situation in accordance with the agreed upon principles and criteria.
Al-Bayane (P.P.S) 16.12.99: Editorial. Legitimate concern. The Sahara situation is bogging down. In any event, while the process is bogging down, Morocco, securely in control of its territory, has demonstrated that it has no intention of getting a raw deal in bargaining process. The development of its retrieved provinces is only getting stronger, the bases more solid. Whether the referendum machine stays on track or not, the Kingdom will remain comfortably in control.(translated from the revue de presse of the French Embassy , Rabat)

15.12.99
Morocco
The Moroccan dailies
Bayane al-Youm and Al-Ahdath al-Maghribia reported on the "removals" and disappearances of citizens in El Ayoun and Tan-Tan and requested information from the authorities.

16.12.99
SADR-East Timor
Mohamed Sidati met at Strasbourg with Xanana Gusmao, president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, which was awarded with the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought of the European Parliament. The timorese leader exprimed his full support for the struggle for self-determination and independance of the Saharawi people and accepted an invitation to visit the SADR. (
communique of the Polisario office for Benelux and EU)

SOLIDARITY

Spanish campaign "Que el Sáhara no sea un nuevo Timor"
10.12.99 Oviedo, Asturias: The Asturias Association of Friends of the Sahrawis organized a three-day retreat to denounce wave of repression in the Western Sahara.

10.12.99
Limoges, France
Over 200 people participated in a conference-debate, organized by the Comité limousin de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui. Mohamed Sidati, Minister Counsellor of the Presidency, presented the current situation. J. M. Lavieille, a specialist in international law and Liliane Dayot, author of "Maroc. Amnésie internationale" presented an historical overview of the issues related to the Western Sahara and an analysis of the new situation in Morocco.

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