The first international film festival in the Sahara took place in the wilaya of Smara. Pedro Pérez Rosado, producer of the film Cuentos de la guerra saharaui screened as a world première, and the actress Sylvia Munt were behind this project, which received the support of show business personalities such as Pedro Almodóvar, Luis García Berlanga and Pilar Bardem. Financed by public bodies and associations of solidarity the Saharawi people the festival projected on 35mm, on an outdoor big screen 21 most Spanish films with Arabic sub-titles to an audience fascinated by the novelty of it. Several Spanish and Latin American producers and actors had travelled there.
The festival, which aims to be a means of education, leisure and culture, is only a part of an ambitious project called "Cinema for the Saharawi people", which expects to be opening videotheques and audio-visual training workshops in the camps.
The festival finished with awarding "The rose of the desert" to "El bosque animado" (The animated forest), an animated film by Angel de la Cruz and Manolo Gomez (Spain 2001), chosen by a jury of some fifty Saharawi spectators as the best film of the Festival, a jury which gave a special mention to "El otro lado de la cama", for its "high cinematographic quality and the quality of the interpretation of all its actors". In a statement, the organisers and the participants insisted on the "necessary raising of awareness of the tragic and unjust situation" in which the Saharawi find themselves for the last 28 years. (SPS, Spanish press) (more in Spanish: Manifiesto, Fotos y más en el sitio de Festival Sahara )
Inaugural session of the Saharawi parliament hold in Tifariti, liberated territories in presence of the President of the Republic.
The Maghreb Delegation of the European Parliament received Mohamed Sidati, Minister Counsellor to the President and member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, who recalled that "all the efforts of the International Community to reach a just and peaceful solution have not been successful because of the blatant lack of political will on the part of Morocco, which had refused to this day to implement the pertinent decisions and resolutions of the UN..." Mr Sidati recalled that "the Polisario Front, by accepting to explore the Baker Plan on Western Sahara, has taken a gamble on its future... This is a generous act of courage and lucidity... An act which says much about our will for peace and reconciliation." Mr Sidati appealed to the European Union as a matter of urgency to use its weight with Morocco so that it could choose the route of international legality and accept the Baker Plan because "Morocco cannot continue to play games with UN resolutions and defy the law".
The vice-president of the Maghreb Delegation, Pascualina Nopoletano, spoke, recalling that it is urgent that Morocco accept and apply the Baker plan as the Polisario Front has done, to give every chance to a peaceful and lasting solution. Yasmine Boudjnah, MEP, for her part referred to the tragedy of the Saharawi people in both its humanitarian and political dimensions before calling on European officials to "commit themselves actively in favour of the resolution of the conflict in Western Sahara by implementing the United Nations plan as demanded also by the resolution of the European Parliament of 20 November 2003 on EUROMED." (SPS)
On a visit to Italy, the Coordinator with MINURSO, M'hamed Khaddad, asked for a "firmer" commitment by Europe to put an end to the conflict in Western Sahara on the basis of "respect for the resolutions of the United Nations". He emphasised that Morocco cannot "indefinitely block all the avenues to peace with impunity". The Saharawi diplomat was received by the Presidents of the Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee and Human Rights Committee as well as members of the Italian-Saharawi parliamentary intergroup, which brings together all Italian political groups. The Saharawi delegation also met the President of the Democrats of the Left (Democratici di Sinistra), Massimo D'Alema, those responsible for external relations of Forza Italia, and the National Alliance and different political figures from Italian society. (SPS)
Italy - Parliament
The Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution on Western Sahara (n. 7-00336 Cima) which asks the government to support the United Nations, in particular to press Morocco to accept the new Baker Plan. It calls for support for humanitarian aid programs of ECHO, the UNHCR and WFP, in addition to its own aid going to the refugees and to work for the implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council.
Visit of the President of the Spanish government
The Algerian and Spanish heads of state issued a joint statement reaffirming their attachment to a just and definitive solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, within the framework of UN Security Council resolution 1495. During a press conference in Algiers Aznar reiterated the "forceful position" of Spain with regard to the question of Western Sahara: "Spain supports the efforts of the UN secretary general to find a solution to this conflict which would be accepted by both parties (Morocco and the Polisario Front), in accordance with the UN peace plan", he pointed out. Adding "no settlement plan is dead". (aps)
President Bouteflika on Tuesday proposing a toast in honour of the President of Portugal, Jorge Fernando Branca de Sampaio, on an official visit to Algeria, emphasised that this question presents itself as "a problem of unfinished decolonisation", and should find its solution "in the context of a referendum of self-determination of the Saharawi people, in conformity with the United Nations Peace Plan".
The American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, accompanied by Mr William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State responsible for the Middle East and Richard Boucher, Deputy Secretary of State responsible for public affairs carried out a brief tour of the Maghreb: on arrival on 02 in Tunis, he met the King of Morocco in Marrakech and President Bouteflika in Algiers the next day.
Press briefing Marrakech 03.12.03
"With regard to the Western Sahara, we look to the parties to find a political solution through negotiations. We support Secretary Jim Baker's efforts to assist the parties in finding a solution and, of course, the United States would not be interested in imposing a solution on the parties. The parties have to find the right answer through negotiations on the basis of the Baker Plan."
Press biefing Alger 03.12.03
"As I did earlier today in my meeting with King Mohammed, I emphasized this evening to President Bouteflika our interest in a political solution to the problem of the Western Sahara. The United States continues to support the efforts of the U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy, former Secretary of State Jim Baker. We do not seek to impose a solution on any party. I encouraged President Bouteflika, as I urged King Mohammed this morning, to continue their bilateral dialogue on this issue and on ways Algeria and Morocco can work together. "
Appeal to the
The Saharawi Minister of foreign affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek launched an appeal to "make Morocco conform with international law" in order to put an end to the occupation of Western Sahara. He underlined that "the sabotage of the 1991 settlement plan and the refusal of the peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, presented by Mr James Baker and unanimously supported by the Security Council, remains the principal hindrance to peace, harmony and development of the region". (APS)
Euro-Maghreb summit, "5+5"
This summit devoted to security and cooperation in the Mediterranean, christened "Dialogue 5+5" from the name of the countries present - Spain, Italy, France, Malta, Portugal for Southern Europe and Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Mauritania, Tunisia for the Maghreb -, assembles the leaders of these countries and on the agenda, reinforcing the political relations and economic cooperation between these states. During the opening President J Chirac "made a solemn appeal" to the countries of the Maghreb to "lift the obstacles to their rapprochement and to put everything to work especially towards reaching a settlement of conflicts which could still exist", making allusion to the conflict in Western Sahara.
The King of Morocco and the Algerian president, who followed each other at the rostrum, likewise made allusions to Western Sahara, the principal obstacle to the realisation of the Union of the Arab Maghreb (UMA): For Moahmed VI, it is imperative to find a peaceful settlement which is negotiated, consensual and lasting to this "artificial" conflict, a settlement which should be seen in the context of "international legality and which would ensure "sovereignty, national unity" and "the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco". He warned that "this dispute makes the biggest threat to security of the region worse and even constitutes fertile ground for terrorism".
To that Bouteflika replied that the UMA should be concerned with what belongs to the UMA and the UN with what belongs to the UN, after expressing the hope that the first meeting of the Arab Maghreb Union for nearly 10 years, expected before the end of December in Algiers, should take place and provide a new impulse to the process of regional integration.
In a message
addressed to the European and Maghreb heads of state participating in
this conference, Mr Abdelaziz reaffirmed that the question of Western
Sahara is "a business of decolonisation" and underlined that "the
imperative necessity is a solution on the basis of self-determination
of the Saharawi people as stipulated in UN resolutions".
He also indicated that the agreement of the Polisario Front with the new plan of self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, presented by Mr James Baker "is an act of generosity towards the people of the Maghreb and it's for them", "the proof of the lucid vision that the Polisario Front has of its duties and obligations towards the people of the Maghreb and its conviction in the community that fate binds them within." (APS)
Finally and on the contrary of the expectations of some european diplomats, no meeting was schedule between the Moroccan King and the Algerian president.
A Moroccan-Spanish summit should be co-chaired, on 8 and 9 December in Rabat, by the Prime Minister, Driss Jettou, and his Spanish counterpart, José Maria Aznar which will be accompanied by 7 ministers. Aznar will be received by King Mohamed VI in Marrakech. (agencies)
AFAPREDESA publishes a letter from King Juan Carlos of Spain, co-signed by a collective of human rights defenders in Western Sahara, the Union of Saharawi Lawyers, the National Union of Saharawi Women, the Union of Saharawi Workers and the Union of Saharawi Youth. On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Universal Charter of Human Rights and the International Day of human rights from 10 December 2003, these Saharawi associations recall to the sovereign his promise of 2 November 1975 in El Ayoun : "We want to protect the legitimate rights of the Saharawi civil population, as our mission and our history demand ".
Political prisoners, Ali Salem Tamek and Ahmed Nassiri publish a statement on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights in which they denounce the violations of human rights in Morocco. (texte complet en français)
The preparatory committee of Saharawi victims of forced disappearance and arbitrary detention survivors from secret Moroccan detention centres comment in a statement on recommendations adopted by the Consultative Council of Human Rights concerning the creation of "the body of equity and reconciliation" as an official approach aiming to turn the page on serious human rights abuses. (see news 45-47 ) pointing out certain positive aspects it denounces the limits and weaknesses. (complete text français )
Facing the exhaustion of stocks of foodstuffs the Saharawi Red Crescent (CRS) launched a distress call aimed at international organisations, NGOs and countries so as to avoid "the acute crisis which threatens the life of thousands of Saharawi refugees, depending totally on humanitarian aid". It announces that they have started distributing the emergency back-up food stocks. (SPS)
Entrega del III Premio de Narrativa Juvenil Alandar (Grupo Editorial Luis Vives).
El premio se entregó a Ricardo Gómez por su obra 'El cazador de estrellas', un libro que cuenta la historia de un muchacho enfermo recluido en una jaima de un campamento de refugiados saharauis. Gracias a las charlas que mantiene con un anciano a través de la lona de su jaima descubre la historia de su pueblo y desvela el sentido de su dolor. (Poemario por un Sahara libre)
10 years of twinning
The town of Gonfreville l'Orcher celebrated its twinning with the town of J'Réfia in Western Sahara in the presence of a Saharawi delegation of about twenty led by the Minister of the Occupied Territories Djalil Sid M'Hamed accompanied by the Minister of Culture Mariem Salek, the Wali of Dakhla Salem Lebsir.
Opening in Paris-Nanterre of the 29th European Conference of Solidarity with the Saharawi people, EUCOCO.
More information in the next edition of the news.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]