12.10.75 - 12.10.00
Saharawi national unity
It was on 12 October 1975, at the moment when Spain was getting ready to cede Western Sahara to Morocco, that the represenatives of the Saharawi people, of all tendencies, gathered together under the banner of the Polisario Front to decide on pursuing the struggle for national liberation against the new colonial power. Festivities marking this anniversary which took place from 12-19 October in the four wilayas of the refugee camps, were the occasion for big meetings, followed by campaigns of community work such as cleaning the surroundings of the camps. Ceremonies also took place in the liberated territories. They ended with military manoeuvres in Mheiriz, in which motorised battalions and heavy artillery and the DCA took part, and which were attended by observers from MINURSO. An offensive against a portion of the Moroccan defensive wall was simulated. (SPS)
A Saharawi delegation consisting of the Polisario Front representative in Switzerland, Senia Ahmed, and the General Secretary of the Union of Saharawi Jurists, Abba Salek, took part in a congress of the Swiss socialist party in Lugano. During their speeches in a plenary session and through many contacts with the officers of the party and other foreign delegations present, the Saharawis explained the present situation regarding the settlement plan and invited their audience to visit the Moroccan occupied territories to take note of the repression experienced by the local population and to give their help and protection to them. (corr.)
The Moroccan gendarmerie arrested the two brothers, Toufah and Lehbib, on 11 October for setting on fire a vehicle belonging to the gendarmerie with a gas cannister (week 41), as well as four other people suspected of being their accomplices. Three people were sentenced to eight months in prison and a fine of 5,500 dirhams (about 550 US dollars). The three others accused were acquitted and freed. (SPS, AFAPREDESA)
The magistrates' court in El Ayoun condemned eight young Saharawis for attempting to join the Polisario Front. These young people had been arrested on 6 October (week 40) near Guelta Zemmour. Four other Saharawis are still on the run. (SPS, AFAPREDESA)
The Mauritanian President received Mr William Eagleton, the UN Secretary General's Special representative for Western Sahara.
For the first time a committee of the European Parliament devoted an official meeting to Western Sahara. The interparliamentary delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb invited the Moroccan Ambassador to the EU and Mohamed Sidati, SADR minister counsellor. (See Sidati's speech)
In the debate which followed, several MEPs appealed to the Council of Ministers of the Union to take up a position for common action. "The Council cannot remain deaf to our appeals and commit itself to silence", they stressed. Deputy Canero deplored the paradoxical talk of Morocco which affirms that it is living through a democratic transition when the entire conflict in Western Sahara remains. Another speaker, Mr Poos, emphasised that the solution can only go one way : the implementation of the international resolutions on the subject. "Right must prevail", he affirmed. Yasmin Boudjenah made reference to the attitude of France with respect to the conflict. This attitude "does not serve the interests of the Saharawi people, nor those of Morocco and still less those of the Maghreb," she pointed out. (SPS, aps)
The Algerian President and his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr Tran Duc Luong, reiterated their "support" for the United Nations settlement plan for the organisation of a referendum in Western Sahara and for the self-determination of the Saharawi people.
The President of South Africa, Mr Thabo M'Beki, receiving in Pretoria the Saharawi Minister for Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed the support of his country for the right of the Saharawi people for self-determination and independence. Mr Thabo M'Beki stressed that the settlement plan remains the only peaceful way to settle the conflict. The South African Minister for Foreign Affairs, accompanied by his Nigerian counterpart, conveyed the position of his country to the King of Morocco during a meeting in Casablanca on 16.10.00. (SPS, PANA)
Saharawi unemployed graduates from El Ayoun have been on hunger strike since 14 October. They organised a indefinite sit-in to commemorate the bloody events of El Ayoun in September 1999. The strikers demand the government to honour promises made a year ago and proper respect for human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. (AFAPREDESA). According to a correspondent on the ground, hunger strikers have been taken to hospital following the deterioration in their state of health.
A German delegation, consisting of Messrs Eberhard Brecht and Christoph Moosbauer (SPD), members of the Foreign Affairs committee of their parliament, accompanied by the German Ambassador in Rabat, Mr Scheel, travelled to El Ayoun "on a fact-finding mission". Mr Brecht, former Chair of the Foreign Affairs committee and author of a motion in 1996 asking Germany to intensify its efforts for progress in the peace plan, has visited the region on several occasions.
The United Nations Secretary General received the President of SADR, Mohamed Abdelaziz, for talks at the seat of the UN in New York. The Saharawi leader then spoke at a special session of the Security Council. He informed the Council of the constant position of the Polisario Front insisting on the necessity of the faithful and integral implementation of the peace plan which must be preserved from attempts to make it drift or deviate. Abdelaziz was accompanied by M'Hamed Khaddad, coordinator with MINURSO, Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Front representative to the United Nations and Mouloud Said, representative in the USA. Other talks in the UN are planned, among others with the president of the Security Council. The mandate of MINURSO will end on 31 October next and a report of the SG on the situation is imminent. The Security Council will meet on 27.10 to take a decision.
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