Morocco - press
The Moroccan Ministry of Communication has constituted "a commission of coordination on developments of the question of the Moroccan Sahara", composed of journalists and members of the government, with the support of the National Union of Moroccan Press (SNPM). This body will be "a means for preventing misinformation and keeping information on track". It should help Moroccan journalists "not lose their way in the quagmire in quarters trying to sow ill-feeling", the Moroccan daily Al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki (USFP) wrote, adding that this commission can not in any way be interpreted as an intrusion into the affairs of journalists...
At the invitation of the Austrian Socialist Party, a Saharawi delegation led by Mohamed Sidati, Minister Counsellor of the Presidency, attended the congress of the SPÖ. Members of the congress affirmed their support for the rights of the Saharawi people to self-determination and freedom.
The deputy secretary general of the French Association of the Friends of SADR, expressed the view, in an open letter, that it is "inadmissible that France, cradle of human rights, should be orchestrating in the Security Council a policy which makes a mockery of international law". For Elisabeth Muller, "the affirmation of human rights in Morocco must be subject to the respect of commitments which Morocco has taken before the International Community".
The UN Secretary General has invited Morocco and the Polisario Front, as well as the observer countries, Algeria and Mauritania, to meet his personal envoy, James Baker in London, in order "to explore ways and means to achieve an early and durable and agreed resolution of the dispute in Western Sahara".
This new round of negotiations will start on Sunday 14 May and could last several days.
27th Session of the African Commission of Human Rights and Rights of Peoples, CADHP
Several delegates intervened on the subject of repression in the occupied zones of Western Sahara. Abba Salek, secretary general of the Union of Saharawi Jurists, presented a report on the exceptional tribunals, disappearances, manhunts against Saharawis in the occupied territories. Ahmed Sid Ali, judicial counsellor of SADR, presented a resolution which calls for the African community to support for the holding of a referendum "within the given timetable" and to "protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Saharawi people". The CADHP decided to send, during the current semester, a mission to the liberated territories of SADR. (SPS)
The Polisario Front representative in Spain, Brahim Ghali, in an article published by the Madrid daily, "El Mundo", called upon the international community to put "serious pressure" on Morocco in order to bring it to respect the timetable set for the holding of the referendum. He emphasised that "if in the future the Saharawi government decides to defend again its legitimate rights by armed struggle, that it has not been able to achieve through the ballot box because of the obstacles imposed by Morocco with the connivance of certain European governments, who would then be able to accuse it of violating the cease-fire? Who will really be responsible for the resumption of the war?" (APS)
Brahim Ghali, in a communiqué, stressed that "the only solution to the Western Sahara conflict was to hold a self-determination referendum and respect the UN peace plan in order to complete the process of settling colonialism in the Saharawi territory". Ghali added that "the Saharawi people and its unique and legitimate representative, the Polisario Front, rejected any alternative which does not respect the Saharawi people's unequivocal right to self-determination and the immediate holding of a referendum in accordance with the UN peace plan and the Organization of African Unity."
Western Sahara Campaign
At its general meeting in London the Western Sahara Campaign UK passed a motion calling on "the international community and the UN to act on their responsibilities to organise a referendum and in the absence of Moroccan co-operation to do so, to recognise and afford protection to the independent state of Western Sahara." It resolved 'to continue its support for POLISARIO in its actions to achieve the liberation of the Saharawi people.'
On 27 February 2001 "The Sahara Marathon" will take place. It is a benefit race on a world scale, whose aim is to draw attention to the fate of the Saharawi refugees and to raise funds for humanitarian aid for Saharawi children.
This is an initiative of 2 American NGOs, Shelter for Life and US Western Sahara Foundation, affiliated with the National Union of Saharawi Women. The event will happen in different ways at various locations. A classic marathon (26,2 miles) will be run between the refugee camps of El Ayoun and Smara, with various options (half-marathon, 10km participation Race, 5km Celebration Run /Walk). In parallel, anyone can become a "Companion Runner of the Sahara Marathon" by participating in any race, making it a world-wide sporting event, by wearing the official T shirt and paying a registration fee towards the humanitarian aid.
For further information, see the web site http://www.saharamarathon.org, for the moment in English only, but it will be translated and published in due course.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
Toda la prensa española de la semana: http://www.nodo50.org/fpolisario/Prensa.htm