After the withdrawal of recognition of SADR by India more reactions are reported (see also weeks 27/28). The Indian daily newspaper The Tribune relates that African diplomatic mission in India has expressed apprehension as well as misgivings to both the ruling party as well as the main opposition party. On 15 of July a group of ambassadors from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Algeria, called on the BJP President, Mr. Kushabhau Thakre, and expressed concern at the sudden shift in the Indian foreign policy towards Africa. The group of ambassadors cited the recent de-recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) by New Delhi.
The Association of Indian Africanists organized a seminar on «De-recognition of SADR: A Paradigm Shift in India's Foreign Policy» on 19th July at India international Centre, New Delhi. A resolution was adopted which enumerates and denounces Moroccan attempts to block the peace plan in Western Sahara. The resolution refers to the role of India in the struggle for freedom, justice and independence of peoples throughout the world. It mentions the support of India for the UN peace plan for Western Sahara. It notes that the de-recognition of SADR marks a fundamental turning point of Indian foreign policy, which is no longer in solidarity with small countries, and is siding with colonial powers and for whom Morocco has become more important than the OAU.
In his speech on the occasion of the first anniversary of his enthronement, the King of Morocco, who considers the dossier of Western Sahara as his priority, stated that: «any settlement will only be made in the context of Moroccan sovereignty over its Saharan provinces». (...) «Whatever the outcome of the good offices aiming to unblock the UN settlement process, (...) any settlement of the artificial dispute concerning the cause of our territorial integrity, will be made within three sacred reference points: unanimity, sovereignty and legality, so that any crucial decision will only be taken unanimously by all Moroccans».
In a communiqué, the Saharawi ministry of Information describes the speech of the King of Morocco as «disappointing on the internal level and alarming on the regional level». The King is using a «new colonial language» in order to refuse to recognise the nature of the problem of Western Sahara. The national unanimity that he seeks to create around the Sahara is only «an empty slogan» and «the expression of a lack of political will». (Saharawi Ministry of Information, 30.07.00)
In an interview with SPS, the Saharawi Minister of Information describes the speech of the King of Morocco as a «spectacular volte-face». Sid'ahmed Batal said that Mohamed VI wants to deflect public opinion from socio-economic problems, for which he has only empty promises. To qualify the question of the decolonisation of Western Sahara as an «artificial quarrel» is an offense to the UN, to the Security Council and to the whole international community, in the opinion of the Saharawi Minister. «The king has expressed his rejection of the settlement plan and must put up with the consequences of such a turnaround. The sovereignty of Western Sahara belongs alone to the Saharawi people», he added.(SPS)
110 Italian parliamentarians sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, to the President of the Italian Council and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to remind them about the resolution passed by the Committee on Foreign Affairs on 9 March 2000 (see week 11/00). This resolution asks the government to lend «all the support possible to making the referendum happen» and to promote a «solemn» initiative of the European Union, to invite Morocco to permit the referendum and to respect its result.
Threat of war
Qatar is said to have bought in Great Britain at the end of May military material to a value of $7.5 million, destined for the Algerian armed forces. It consists of 20 "Defender 110" Land Rovers designed for rapid deployment and for a hot climate, 50 "Defender 110" Land Rover pick-up trucks, also equipped for a hot climate, in addition 500 pairs of binoculars for night vision. Morocco, which has recalled its ambassador from Daha, fears that the equipment is destined for the Polisario Front.(Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, 20.07.00)
The Nouvelle Tribune (Casablanca, 27.07.00), convinced that this equipment is destined for the Polisario, claims that «these vehicles of rapid deployment doubtless equipped with heavy machine guns would make possible armed raids would have the capability of quick withdrawal, while the Defender 110 pick-up trucks could serve both as transport for arms or as platforms for light cannons without recoil, for example».
Recently, government officials from Belgium and from Italy visiting the region have noticed that Morocco has renewed its military installations on the wall.
«Following the tense situation between Morocco and Algeria, conscripts have been called up to reinforce Moroccan troups. They will spend a year training in the army to be ready for any probable threat. Another military manoeuvre, is the creation of several armed and infantry units based in the east of the country». (Le Journal, Moroccan weekly, press review by the French Embassy in Rabat, 31.07.00)
During its national conference held in Hobart, Tasmania, the Australian Labour Party reaffirmed its support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and regretted the lengthy delays which have prevented its implementation up to now. The Party asks the United Nations and the international community to put pressure on Morocco to allow the holding of the referendum without delay. It calls on the Australian government to help the UN more in its efforts to organise the referendum and to establish a dialogue with the Polisario Front. (Full text English)
Responding to a question from a deputy, the Spanish government assured him that the Spanish army is capable of taking part, with no operational or logistical limitations in a possible international deployment, under a UN mandate in the Sahara and in Lebanon. (Spanish press)
Peter Hain MP, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister responsible for Western Sahara met ten Saharawi children at Roath Park Lake in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The children are being hosted by families from Woodcraft Folk, the cooperative youth organisation. Mr Hain asked the children what they wanted and they replied «independence». He told the children that «we are not promising anything. We will do what we can.» After meeting the children, Mr Hain gave a lecture at the prestigious Welsh Centre of International Affairs. Questioned about Western Sahara he told the audience that he had just met the Saharawi children. He said: «We support very strongly the implementation of a referendum. It would be very difficult to implement as the UN has no powers of enforcement. Other political solutions may have to be sought». (WSC UK)
The SADR President Abdelaziz addressed a letter to his Namibian counterpart Sam Nujoma, on the occasion of holding the Southern African Development Community [SADC] summit.
Mentioning the difficulties the UN/OAU Peace Plan is once more facing and the failure of the recent meetings in London and Geneva because of "the unprecedented intransigence of Morocco", the Saharawi leader asked the 14 member states to put pressure upon Morocco by reaffirming their total support to the UN/OAU settlement plan.(SPS)
The Associació Comarcal d'Ajuda al Poble Saharaui presented on 2 August in Denia (Alacant-Alicante) and on 5 August Bellreguard (València), the Spanish version of the books "Ira de arena" and "Tras los velos del silencio", in the presence of the author, Umberto Romano, and of the Polisario Front representative in Valencia. Further information: firstname.lastname@example.org (for Spanish issue) and email@example.com (for the books in Italian)
The Saharawi Minister for Culture, Mariam Salek, met members of the government of the Balearic Islands during a working visit. «There are no words with which to thank the Spanish people for all the help we have received», she said. (Spanish press)
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