The family of a non-commissioned officer of the Moroccan army, Babitou Hamdi Ould Belkheir, taken away by Moroccan military police on 21.12.99 (see week 51/99), filed a complaint with the prosecutor of the El Ayoun court on December 4, 1999. The family has received no news of him and the complaint has not yet been followed up. (SPS)
Sahrawi students in Morocco demonstrated in Marrakech and Rabat against human rights violations in the Western Sahara. Survivors of the Kalaat M'Gouna, Agdz and Derb Moulay Cherif prisons joined in the demonstrations, along with other Sahrawis who have been victims of human rights' violations. (SPS)
During their appearance before the trial judge on February 3, the three accused Sahrawis, Brahim Laghzal, Cheikh Khaya and Laarbi Massoudi, denied the charges against them. A second examination is slated for February 14. The Sahrawis were assisted by three Moroccan lawyers (Sahrawi Ministry of the Occupied Territories).
Sahrawi President visits the UN
On the eve of the UN decision to extend MINURSO's mandate, Mohamed Abdelaziz met in New York with Kofi Annan, the Chairman of the Security Council, Argentinian Lister and the President of the General Assembly, Namibian Theo-Ben Gurirab.
"We have come to ask a straightforward question: Is the UN still determined to organize a self-determination referendum no later than the end of the year 2000?" stated the President of the SADR. "If the United Nations continues to postpone the date of the referendum, we will tell them that there is no longer any reason for them to be present in the territory and that they should declare their mission a failure and leave," he said. He stated that if UN is still committed, however, to a democratic resolution of the conflict by means of a free, just and transparent self-determination referendum before the end of the year, "it can count on the Polisario Front's support and full cooperation." The Sahrawi President concluded, "Abandoning the referendum option is a dangerous idea (.). Instead of bringing peace, such a move would lead to a return to destabilization and tension in the region." (SPS, AFP, Reuters)
Morocco - Referendum
The fact that a few deputies periodically raise the question of the Western Sahara before the European Union (EU), "is not an innocent gesture, but rather is part of a systematic attempt to denigrate Morocco, and a propaganda campaign in favour of Polisario," charged Abdelouahed Radi, Chairman of the House of Representatives in Morocco, during a speech at an official dinner honouring Nicole Fontaine, President of the European Parliament, who was visiting Morocco.
Mr. Radi stated that "the identification operations did not respect the criteria set out in the Settlement Plan, thus excluding tens of thousands of authentic Sahrawis from the voter's list." (Le Matin du Sahara)
As part of the 1st Euro-Mediterranean meeting of the families of the disappeared, organized by the International Federation of Human Rights in Paris, Geneva and Brussels, from February 8 to 11, two former Sahrawi disappeared, Daoud El Khadir and Ballagh Brahim, gave first-hand accounts of their 25 years of forced "disappearance" in Morocco's clandestine prisons.(french)
In a press release (french) published in Paris, AFAPREDESA stressed its great concern for the disappearance or extrajudicial detention of several Sahrawi nationals: member of the military, Babitou Hamdi Ould Belkheir, who disappeared in December, as well as Brahim Laghzal, Cheikh Khaya and Laarbi Massoudi, who were removed on December 6 and were disappeared for 10 days.
During his trip to Morocco, the US Minister of Defence, William Cohen, clearly stated his intention to strengthen bilateral military cooperation. (La Tribune, Alger)
In a press release issued by its foreign affairs secretariat on January 17, the government of Honduras stated that it will maintain its current diplomatic relations with the SADR until a vote is held. Recently, certain Moroccan media had reported that Honduras had withdrawn its recognition of the SADR. (SPS) (http://www.citeweb.net/spsinfo/sps-040200.html)
Diyé Ba, Mauritanian Minister of Health and Social Affairs, met with her Sahrawi counterpart. During their meeting, both parties expressed their interest in increasing cooperation in the area of health between these two fraternal peoples. (ami)
Omar Mansour, Sahrawi Minister of Health, met with Modibo Keita, Secretary General of the Presidency and gave him a message for the President of Mali, Omar Konaré, regarding the latest developments in the Western Sahara. (SPS)
07.02.00, South Africa
The President of the Republic of South Africa received the Sahrawi Minister of Foreign Affairs and restated South Africa's support for the Settlement Plan as well as its prompt and full implementation. He stated the need for the OAU to work hand-in-hand with the UN to find a final resolution to the Western Sahara conflict, Africa's last colony. (SPS)
In a joint press release, Paraguay and the SADR announced the establishment of diplomatic relations, making Paraguay the 24th country in Latin America and the Caribbean to recognize the SADR. (Sahrawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Western Sahara Update: Reviewing the Status of a Neglected North African Conflic.
A briefing on the Western Sahara
dispute, at The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at
Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
February 16, 2000
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