Referendum - Interview
In an interview for the Swiss daily paper, Le Temps, the Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, M'Hamed Khaddad, declared that there exists "in the United Nations a feeling against the referendum on the pretext that it runs the risk of destabilising the regime of Mohamed VI. However, he added, the cost of maintaining over 100,000 Moroccan soldiers in Western Sahara is much more destabilising economically." On the subject of the peace plan he pointed out that "three quarters of the work has been done, the outcome of the vote in favour of independence is no longer in doubt. The problem is now technical. It can be settled quickly."
During his visit to Switzerland, Mr Khaddad had talks with Mr Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Red Cross, about the prisoners of war. Mr Khaddad stressed the "necessity of the ICRC to increase their efforts for the Saharawi prisoners of war and disappeared." (SPS).
"The question of Western Sahara is the concern of the United Nations. If the UN assumes its role, the Houston agreements will be respected, if it doesn't, God alone knows what will happen", the Algerian President, Bouteflika stated in an interview with Radio-Orient, broadcast from Paris.
Agadir. The King of Morocco visited the Moroccan prisoners of war released recently by the Polisario Front.
DEMONSTRATIONS IN OCCUPIED WESTERN SAHARA (see also week 09)
After the demonstrations in Smara on 1 March, the permanent bureau of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front expressed the opinion, in a communiqué, that they constitute "an intensification and a generalisation of the struggle" against the Moroccan invader. It denounced "strenuously the colonial methods of repression" and called on the United Nations and MINURSO "to defend the rights of Saharawi citizens" (Saharawi Ministry of Information 04.03.00)
Three Moroccan political parties USFP, PPS and OADP, deounced "vigourously the strong-arm intervention" against the Saharawi citizens of Smara. They accused the captain of the Moroccan auxiliary forces of holding responsibility for the events and called on the government to "find as quickly as possible solutions to the problems posed" in the occupied territories ( Al-Bayane Moroccan daily newspaper, SPS, 06.03.00).
04.03.00 El Ayoun
In solidarity with the protesters of Agadir, Smara, Rabat and Marrakech, Saharawi high school pupils and students in El Ayoun organised a demonstration, which was rapidly joined by several hundred Saharawis of all ages and conditions. Bearing Saharawi flags and chanting slogans hostile to the Moroccan occupier, the participants demanded the liberation of Saharawi political prisoners. Violent confrontations and arrests followed the demonstration. Cars were burnt. The Occupation authorities reinforced the security operation in the town and its surrounding areas (SPS, 06.03.00). http://www.arso.org/ayoun2000.htm)
According to AFAPREDESA at least ten people were arrested and dozens injured. (communiqué 07.03.00 spanish or french).
Morocco imposed a curfew in El Ayoun and Smara, according to the Madrid daily El Pais, quoting information from local authorities and other local sources. In the two towns, the Moroccan army called in as reinforcements, took position. Military vehicles equipped with loud hailers drove around the town, warning residents to stay inside and to turn off lights. Seven people were detained from the dozens of young people arrested. El Pais also claims that members of MINURSO in El Ayoun confirmed the occurrence of the confrontations and the stoning of a police vehicle, and one belonging to MINURSO. Questioned by the same paper, the Moroccan journalist Anas Mezzour, who went to Smara and El Ayoun after the disturbances, claimed that the presence of forces of order there is overwhelming. "There are two policemen in every alley way". She adds that "people are frightened, nobody wants to talk. My impression is that this town could explode something at any time, nobody knows what" (El Pais, 08, 09 et 10.03.00).
EFE stressed the reinforcement of the police operation in El Ayoun. The Spanish agency confirmed the short-lived incidents, in which dozens of young people were involved. (La Provincia, 09.03.00).
Reuters reported the testimony of a Western diplomat in El Ayoun, who noticed an exceptional deployment of troops after the incidents of the weekend.(BBC, 10.03.00).
The representatiave of the Polisario Front in Spain declared that the town of El Ayoun "is still in a state of siege". "Military and police patrols and members of the auxiliary forces continue to drive around the main streets of El Ayoun in military vans, where the curfew is decreed from 7 pm." he stated. (APS,09.03.00).
The Saharawi Government and the Polisario Front launched an "urgent appeal to the United Nations and to their Mission in Western Sahara to ensure the protection of our compatriots and to lift the state of siege imposed on El Ayoun and Smara." (Saharawi Ministry for the Occupied Territories 05.03.00).
The Moroccan Government denied categorically the institution of a curfew in Smara and El Ayoun. It expressed its discontent and accused the Spanish newspapers El Mundo and El Pais of being "simple spokesmen of the Polisario". Called before the Ministry of Communication, their correspondents, Pedro Canales and Javier Espinosa were accused of practices contrary to their professional code of conduct. The Moroccan Government insisted that representatives of the Western press can travel to El Ayoun whenever they want. (El Pais, El Mundo, 09.03.00 ).
The Intergroup of the European Parliament "Peace for the Saharawi People" called on the international community to "demand that the Moroccan authorities respect the fundamental rights of the Saharawis." (APS, 09.03.00).
The Polisario Front, in a
letter to the President of the Security Council,
the Ambassador of Bangladesh, A. Chowdhury, denounced the violent
repression in the towns of Smara and El Ayoun by the Moroccan forces
of occupation. They expressed the view that the Council should
intervene to ensure that the Moroccan Government respects the
political and human rights of the Saharawi civil population, as well
as the right to demonstrate in favour of self-determination and
independence. The letter adds that if the Council deals with these
tragic events now, it will prevent other, more serious and perhaps
more bloody ones happening in the future. The representative of the
Polisario Front with the UN expressed surprise that MINURSO was
maintaining its usual silence, adding that it would be difficult to
justify its lack of reaction in the face of events which took place
in front of its head office in El Ayoun.
At the request of Namibia, the UN Security Council planned to meet in a closed session on 09.03 about the recent confrontations in Western Sahara. The session was put forward to the following week, "to gather more information".
A delegation from the National Union of Saharawi Women is staying in Belgium, invited by the Belgian Committee of Support for the Saharawi People. On the occasion of 8 March, the National Union of Saharawi Women expressed, in a communiqué, its solidarity with the Saharawi population in the occupied zones, inviting them to pursue the struggle for national independence. For the NUSW, "this International Women's Day coincides with the 26th anniversary of the first Saharawi martyr, Bachir Lahlaoui, who fell on the field of honour on 8 March 1974 against the Spanish coloniser." (SPS).
In Medida, in Spain, the representative of the Saharawi Youth, accompanied by Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and by Hebe Pastor de Bonafini, of the Mothers of the Place de Mai, underlined the important role played by Saharawi women in the struggle of the Saharawi people (La Provincia).
In a message to the Saharawi President on the occasion of the National Day, Mr. Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of Mali, said that Mali is ready to "support the efforts of the UN for a peaceful settlement of the question of Western Sahara" (SPS).
The Spanish Human Rights League Pro derechos humanos denounced the Moroccan attempt to impose the "third way" to find a solution to the problem of Western Sahara. In a communiqué the Spanish organisation accused Spain, France and the United States of adopting this third way, which would consist in making the Sahara a Moroccan province endowed with a certain degree of autonomy.
71st Session of the OAU Council of Ministers
In its report the Council announced having been informed of the latest developments in the peace process in Western Sahara by the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, who warned of the grave consequences which could result from the obstacles put in the way of the implementation of the peace plan and any hint of a substitution for it.
70 persons took part in a whole day seminar on Western Sahara in Gothenburg. Eva Zetterberg, member of the parliament, Inga Brandell from the university of Uppsala, Lamine Yahiaoui, Polisario Front and Lena Thunberg, Saharabulletinen, participated.
A statement concerning the demonstration in Smara was adopted and sent to the minister of Foreign affairs. The Western Sahara group of The Gothenburg Africa groups sent a letter to the minister of Foreign affairs concerning the latest report of UN. In the letter the Swedish government is called upon to act for an international isolation of Morocco, if pressure bare no result.
06-07.03.00 The Polisario representative to the Nordic countries, Mr. Yahiaoui Lamin,made a brief visit to Norway. In Oslo he held a number of meetings with the Norwegian government, prominent politicians, humanitarian NGOs and the press. Lamin was interviewed by Norwegian Broadcasting, NRK and by the daily newspaper Klassekampen. He held long and fruitful discussions with the two Norwegian NGOs active among the refugees in Tindouf, Norwegian People's Aid (NPA)and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA). The organizer of the visit was the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
International Court of Justice: Advisory Opinion of 16 October 1975 on Western Sahara
La emisora de la Radio Nacional Saharaui ya se puede escuchar en la banda de Onda Corta en 7.470 khz.
All Sahara Press Service releases in French: http://www.citeweb.net/spsinfo
A compilation of the Spanish media on line texts is awailable by e-mail at: email@example.com or ARSO
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]