The 3rd Conference of Polisario Front political officers finished with a speech by the Prime Minister Bouchraya Beyoun presenting the priorities of his government's 2002 programme : strengthening of social structures, reorganisation of the civil service, the administration, justice and social policy. He emphasised that the army would pursue its preparation in order to be able to "take up arms at any moment, if necessary, to defend our rights to liberty and independence". (SPS)
Algeria - UN-Oil
The permanent representative of Algeria with the UN, Adbdallah Baali, asked the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to follow the advice given by the Legal Department by refraining in the future from calling Morocco the "administering power" of Western Sahara. (SPS)
Algeria - UN - Peace plan
Algeria proposed, in a document given to the United Nations in mid-January, that the international organisation should take charge of the administration of Western Sahara, until a solution in keeping with the interests of the Saharawi population is found. (agencies)
Delegation of European Parliament - visit
The ad hoc Delegation of the European Parliament for Western Sahara finally traveled to El Ayoun and Rabat. This visit follows one to the Saharawi refugee camps in October 2001. (week 44 2001). Led by Mrs Catherine Lalumière, PS, France, vice-president of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, the delegation comprised 18 people including MEPs Marianne Ericson, Vänsterpartiet, Sweden, Pasqualina Napoletano, DS, Italy, Vitaliano Gemelli, CDU, Italy, Charles Marchiani, RPF, France, Jorge Hernandez Mollar, PP, Spain, and Ramon Obiols Germa, PSOE, Spain.
In El Ayoun the parliamentarians met with local authorities, shioukh, MINURSO officials, and representatives of civil society. Several Saharawi delegations, of unemployed, human rights defenders, former political prisoners, families of disappeared and former workers from Phos BouCraa, were heard in camera as they had requested. The subjects raised covered on the one hand, the human rights situation, and on the other the outlook for a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. A detailed report on human rights in the occupied territories was given to the MEPs as well as a list of 99 documented cases of disappearance. The Saharawi delegations furthermore made clear their rejection of the Baker plan and demanded the right to self-determination through a free and transparent referendum.
In Rabat the MEPs had talks with the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Human Rights, as well as with Moroccan MPs. Mrs Lalumière announced that her delegation will meet again on 25 or 26 February to draw up a report and formulate recommendations to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, with the aim of helping find a solution to a problem which she called difficult.
Mauritania - SADR
The President of the Mauritanian Republic received Omar Mansour, Saharawi Minister for Health, bearer of a personal message from President Abdelaziz concerning the latest developments in the peace plan and his desire for cooperation and dialogue with Mauritania, with a view to allowing the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination.
The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines decided to recognise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic as an independent and sovereign state. (Joint statement )
A demonstration of the Association of Saharawi unemployed, constituted on 7 January last, was dispersed by the police. The unemployed were protesting at the refusal of the authorities to legalise their association.
In an article entitled "The European Union, concerned by dubious manoeuvres of the United States and France in the Sahara", the Spanish weekly Tiempo de Hoy reveals that the EU suspects the USA of having agreed with Morocco in 1996 an investment plan in Western Sahara, and denounces the alliance between the USA, France and Morocco on the exploitation of oil resources in the region.
Taking account of the close links of James Baker with the oil sector, the journalist raises questions on the integrity of the personal representative of Kofi Annan and on the role of the United States in the search for a solution to the conflict.
In this context, the Baker plan, supported by France and the USA, proposing a pseudo-autonomy of the Sahara within Morocco, would give the green light to American-French multinationals to exploit the natural resources of the region.
The journalist also leaves us to understand that the Spanish position in favour of the referendum and against the autonomy plan left the oil company Repsol, which is also interested in Saharan oil, with no share of the resources.
According to the Canary Islands daily, La Provincia, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, asked the Moroccan authorities to respect the UN legal opinion concerning oil prospecting in Western Sahara and to suspend permits given to TotalFinaElf and Kerr McGee.
23 members of the American Congress, mixed Republicans and Democrats, sent a letter in which they urge the President G.W.Bush to press the UN Security Council to ensure that the UN settlement Plan for the Western Sahara and the Houston Accords be respected and implemented without delay and the right of the indigenous people of Western Sahara to self-determination no longer be violated. The parliamentarians express their increasing concern over the continued delay in holding a referendum over Western Sahara. Furthermore, they say they are very disturbed by reports of the Moroccan Government signing contracts with foreign companies for exploration of resources in the territory of Western Sahara, while the UN does not accord Morocco with any sovereignty over the territory.
OF THE WEEK
«V.U.: American interest in the Maghreb has thus pushed Washington to get involved in the peace mediation in Western Sahara?
B.R.: Yes, if Western Sahara is destabilised, that could lead to repercussions in the whole Sahara. Now, this desert is rich in phosphates, uranium and oil. A part of this desert has outlets on the Atlantic. The United States has an interest in having a transport and supply route which would by-pass Algeria. It is therefore imperative to put an end to the crisis in Western Sahara by means of a compromise between Algeria and Morocco of which the United States would be the guardian, even if this peace agreement is made under the auspices of the United Nations. James Baker, former Secretary of State, has been appointed UN special representative in the region; this choice is very significant : Mr Baker is a Texan and a formidable expert in the oil business! »(L'or noir: un enjeu stratégique, Entretien avec Bernard Ravenel, Propos recueillis par G. Delaunoy, vivant univers, nov-déc. 1998 - Black gold : strategic stakes, Talking with Bernard Ravenel, interviewed by G. Delaunoy, vivant univers, Nov-Dec 1998)
DEMONSTRATION in LONDON
To support the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people!
To encourage the Spanish government, during its presidency of the European Union (January - June 2002), to take positive steps towards helping the Saharawi people exercise their right to self-determination in a free and fair referendum.
Wednesday 27th February, 12.30 - 1.30
Where: Spanish Embassy, 39 Chesham Place, London SW1
Meet in Belgrave Square 12 noon - 12.15. Nearest tube station : Hyde Park Corner
Org.: Western Sahara Campaign UK. (email@example.com)
UK, London, Spitz Gallery (109 Commercial Street), 13-28 February, 1200-1700: "Invisible Links" Joint photographic exhibition on Cuba and Western Sahara by Danielle Smith - an exhibition of black and white photographs of family life in the Saharawi refugee camps and Havana, Cuba.
Aragon, España: 17 de febrero a las 12 del mediodía
y a petición de la Asociación de vecinos del barrio de
la Almozara, montaremos la mesa en el parque de la Aljaferia.
Con motivo del 26 aniversario de la RASD, el día 27 de febrero y con el fin de conmemorar esta fecha histórica del pueblo saharaui, vamos a realizar la VI Semana Cultural:
Día 25 a las 19 horas, en la Casa de las Culturas. Inauguración de la Exposición Cultural, esta permanecerá toda la semana a disposición de los interesados, en este mismo acto se podrá degustar Te.
Día 26 a las 19 horas, en la Casa de las Culturas. Proyección de la película "Los Baúles del Retorno", seguidamente haremos un debate sobre la misma.
Día 27 a las 19 horas, en la Casa de las Culturas. Conferencia "El Estado de la Cuestión" impartida por Ali Mojtar (Delegado del Frente Polisario para Aragón), también proyectaremos el corto "Lalia".
Ya fuera de la Semana Cultural y como es costumbre, participaremos en la Cincomarzada. Um Draiga, Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui (Aragón), (firstname.lastname@example.org)
France, Le Mans: 19.03.02, Grand concert de l'amitié entre les peuples. (Mariem Hassan, Nayim Alal, groupe Leyoad (Sahara Occidental) Thierry Robin (France), Mustafa et Driss, Los Hermanos El Hafer (Maroc), Kadda Cherif Hadria (Algérie), Palais des Congrès et de la Culture. (email@example.com)
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