WEEKS 17 - 18 : 22.04. - 05.05.2007
The Secretary General of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Blade Nzimande, carried out a solidarity visit to the Saharawi Republic. He reaffirmed that “his country rejects categorically the proposal of autonomy presented by Morocco, expressing his unconditional support for the right of the Saharawi people to self- determination and independence”. [read the interesting statement/analysis]
The new Saharawi ambassador, El Haj Ahmed, presented his credentials in La Paz to the Bolivian President, Evo Morales, as Ambassador of the Saharawi Republic with the Government of the Republic of Bolivia, with a residency in Caracas.[SPS]
El Khalil Sidi Mhamed, the Minister of Occupied Territories and the Diaspora, was received in Nouakchott by the Mauritanian president, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. “We have come to congratulate the Mauritanian President on his democratic election to the highest office of this brother country and to congratulate the whole Mauritanian people for this decisive turning point in the history of their country”, he declared. Khaliil announced that the next anniversary of the Polisario Front on 20 May would be celebrated in Mijek, in the Saharawi liberated territories, near the Mauritanian border. [SPS]
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
These last weeks
have been marked by a series of arrests of young Saharawis in El Ayoun.
On 20 April three students from a lycée were questioned, the
next day seven youths and the day after another three. They were
interrogated, mistreated and released after several hours. In Boujdour
on 27 April a demonstration rejecting the autonomy proposal was
savagely repressed, several participants were arrested and beaten.
Hunger strikes are reported, such as that of a Saharawi political prisoner, Abdallahi Hassan, hospitalised on 23 April. In Tiznit prison, he was protesting against his conditions of detention. A Saharawi former political prisoner, El Bellaoui Hamadi, held a hunger strike in front of the parliament in Rabat in favour of independence of Western Sahara and to protest against the ban on his returning there. [SPS]
25.04.07, new organisation
A committee responsible for the preparation of the inaugural general meeting of CODESA, the Collective of Saharawi human rights defenders, was formed. [statement]
Intimidations continue against a Saharawi unionist Sid Ahmed Eddia, spokesman for the Saharawi former workers of Phosboucraa, whose opinions on independence are well-known. At the instigation of Hamdi Ould Errachid, vice-president of the Municipal Council of El Ayoun and brother of the president of CORCAS, the autorities attempt by all possible means, including breaking into his house, to expropriate Sid Ahmed Eddia, on the pretext of building a university on his land. [corr.]
On 18 April Saharawi workers from Phosboucraa took part in a sit-in outside the office of the phosphate firm in El Ayoun, to claim with their Moroccan colleagues respect for their rights.
Eight Saharawi technicians, working for Phosboucraa, announced a 24-hour hunger strike for 8 May. They are protesting against discrimination towards them as Saharawis.
1st May 2007
Saharawis took part in May Day demonstrations denouncing attacks on human rights and calling for the release of political prisoners, as well as the right to self-determination and independence. In El Ayoun and Boujdour the police proceeded to arrest young Saharawis while in Goulimine police intervention resulted in six people being injured. [manifestacion El Aaiun]
Three Spanish fishing boats began fishing in Saharawi territorial waters, implementing the agreement between Morocco and the European Union.
Following a coordination meeting in London between SADR and eight companies who have signed oil exploration contracts with the Saharawi Republic, Kamal Fadel, in charge of coordination with oil companies, called on the British government and people not to lose sight of the fact that their “interests in Western Sahara are affected by a fair and lasting solution of the Saharawi cause, in accordance with international law and the right of the Saharawis to self-determination and independence”. The eight companies concluded on 27 March 2006 oil and gas exploration contracts with SADR.
The Democrats of the Left party « Democratici di Sinistra », meeting at a congress, called for the decolonisation of Western Sahara through a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people and called for Morocco to respect human rights in the occupied territory. The party “Democracy and Liberty - La Margherita" did likewise, as well as the Italian Communists (PDCI) during their respective party conferences.
Europe's liberal youth parties LYMEC, unanimously back the demand that the European Union and all European states recognize the Western Sahara Republic
as an independent state.[statement - English translation by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara]
The Socialist Party of the Left (SV), which is part of the Norwegian government, asked Norway to recognise SADR.[déclaration] [norsk] [Afrol news]
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) adopted a resolution upholding the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence, at the end of its 44th Annual Conference.
Security Council - preliminaries
Before the deliberations of the Security Council concerning the extension of MINURSO’s mandate and the examination of new proposals by the parties, many statements are made on all sides, diplomatic steps taken, and lobbying intensifies.
The Polisario Front has “great hopes, with regard to the initial support expressed by the majority of the UN Council, but also by several countries and regional and international organisations”, that the UN Security Council would adopt on 27 April, a resolution reaffirming the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, Mhamed Khaddad, in charge of relations with MINURSO, declared in New York. “The Polisario Front is ready for negotiation, under the auspices of the United Nations. We reiterate our wish to let the Saharawi people speak so they can pronounce themselves freely on the triptych: independence, autonomy or integration within Morocco and we undertake to respect their choice”. [21.04.07]
A delegation of Moroccan ministers, accompanied by the President of CORCAS, travelled to the United States for meetings with members of the Security Council.
“France and the United States adopted a position aligned with the Moroccan approach concerning Western Sahara”, affirmed Abdelkader Messahel, minister delegate charged with Maghreb and African Affairs. “Algeria reminds these two countries that they are among the states responsible for the maintenance of peace in the world”, he said, in an interview with the daily, Al-Khabar. [23/04/2007, SPS]
The Ambassador of Algeria to the United States, Amine Kherbi, was received in the White House by the deputy counselor of President Bush for National Security, charged with the strategy of global democracy, Elliott Abrams. The talks, which had bearing on the question of Western Sahara, took place in the presence of the deputy assistant under-secretary of State for the Near-East and the Arabian Peninsula, Gordon Gray. [25.04.07]
“After several months of preparation and work, Morocco presented an initiative which we have examined and which we consider serious and responsible”, Gordon Gray declared on Al-Jazeera on 24 April. About fifty members of the American Congress sent a letter to Georges W Bush in favour of the right to self-determination. Two days later, 170 members of the House of Representatives also send a letter, this one favouring the Moroccan solution of autonomy.
[letter 24.04.0] [letter 26.04.07]
[On pro-Moroccan lobbying in the United States, read: Save Freedonia, Ian Williams, The Guardian (UK), May 1, 2007]
The German federal minister and president of the Council of the European Union (EU), Franck-Walter Steinmeier, reaffirmed the position of support of the Union for a process of settlement of the Saharawi conflict within the framework of international law. [25 April 2007]
27.04.07, session on Western Sahara
Consultations of the Council on the report of the Secretary General were followed by a very tight discussion around the draft resolution, the vote on which was reported on 30 April because of divergences of view. This draft had been drawn up by the group of friends of the question of Western Sahara (United States, France, Spain, Russia and Great Britain).
This draft resolution was heavily amended in the course of discussion and consultations with experts, to bring back the principle of the right to self-determination as the basis for any solution to the conflict. South Africa and Panama strongly supported the necessity of equal treatment of the Saharawi and Moroccan proposals.
30.04.07, Resolution S/RES/1754 [English] [français] [espanol]
The Security Council adopted unanimously the definitive resolution and extended until 31 October 2007 the mandate of MINURSO. The Secretary General is to deliver a first report in two months.
The Council reaffirms «its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations (...),
- Taking note of the Moroccan proposal (...) and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move
the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front (..),
- Calls upon the parties to enter into negotiations without preconditions in good faith, taking into account the developments of the last months, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara; » [UN Press release]
Mhamed Khaddad welcomed the Council’s decision, which «has solemnly established the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination as the cornerstone of any just and lasting solution to the conflict of Western Sahara,». «The Frente POLISARIO accepts to enter in direct negotiations, without preconditions and under the auspices of the United Nations, with the Government of the occupying power, the Kingdom of Morocco, with a view to achieving a mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.», he added.[statement]
Morocco “is pleased to welcome the resolution of the Council”, declared the Moroccan deputy Foreign Minister, Taieb Fassi Fihri. Priority is thus accorded to useful, serious and immediate negotiations on the basis of Morocco’s efforts, he pointed out.
“Algeria welcomes with satisfaction the adoption, today, by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution which reaffirms that the solution to the question of Western Sahara lies in the fulfillment of the right to self-determination of the people of this territory. [communiqué MinAE]
The Ambassador of the United States, Zalmay Khalilzad welcomed the fact that the two parties had accepted to negotiate.
“We have welcomed credible efforts displayed by Morocco”, the British Ambassador pointed out to the press. “What we would like to see now is direct negotiation between the parties”, he added.
The government considers that the resolution adopted coincides fully with the position defended by the head of the executive, Zapatero. The ministery of Foreign Affairs, for its part, expressed its satisfaction and prudent hope that a dialogue could begin. [Nota de prensa Presidenca del gobierno]
France welcomes the adoption of the resolution. “After years of status quo, a new dynamic is thus engaged after Morocco, whose efforts have been greeted as serious and credible by the United Nations Security Council, has presented a plan for autonomy that we judged constructive and useful. France expresses the hope that by taking account of these new developments, as the Council invites them to do, the parties will be able to renew negotiations, in good faith, without preconditions and with respect for the principles of the United Nations.” [Min AE, 30.04.07]
[for the large media cover see Spécial revue de presse Sahara-Info]
According to the Saharawi representative at the UN, Ahmed Boukhari, emissaries of the United Nations Secretary General are expected towards mid-May in the region, in the aim of defining the conditions and the place of discussions between Morocco and the Polisario Front in accordance with the resolution. Mr Boukhari elsewhere indicated that these negotiations should be about the organisation of a referendum of self-determination, of which the Polisario has accepted “three possible options: integration with Morocco, autonomy or independence”. Rabat, according to him, “has eliminated two, keeping only the option of autonomy”. “The red line (of these negotiations) for the Polisario and the international community is that the question of the sovereignty and the future of Western Sahara is an inalienable right of the Saharawi people. Neither Morocco nor the Polisario can decide in the place of the Saharawi people”, he said. [AFP]
Palmares FISAHARA 07, IV Festival Internacional de Cine del Sáhara
Primer premio Compartido por:
- Hacia el mundo con tus ojos (Astrid Oster, España 2006)
- Azur y Asmar (Michel Ocelot, Francia-Italia-España 2006)
- El rumor de la arena (Jesús Prieto y Daniel Iriarte, España 2006)
- Ranvio D´appelle, Reenvío de llamada (Omar Zamou, Argelia)
- Viva Cuba (Juan Carlos Cremata e Iraida Malberti, Cuba - Francia 2005)
The Polisario Front representative in Switzerland spoke on the Saharawi question during a conference on the topic “Experiences of struggles for the right to free determination of peoples”, which was held at the Institut Universitaire d’Etudes et de Développement in Geneva, on the initiative of the Community of Unions of the Republic and the Canton of Geneva and several non-governmental organisations.
Saharawi workers in France, in a statement, expressed their refusal of the Moroccan autonomy proposal and demanded the holding of a referendum of self-determination. [communiqué]
Zahra Ramdane, member of the Executive of the National Union of Saharawi Women took part in an international conference in Tenerife entitled “Women of the World, where she spoke on “the role and challenges of Saharawi women”.
Spain granted in one year 27,250 visas for Saharawi children coming to spend their holidays there. [Servimedia, 25.04.07]
La Universidad Autónoma De la Ciudad de México Organizó la jornada de solidaridad con la República Árabe Saharaui Democrática.
Ante más de un centenar de personalidades mexicanas y diplomáticos acreditados en México, fue presentado el premier mundial ¡Sahara Libre!, un documental de Carlos Najera Ubaldo. La presentación fue a cargo del Luís Magaña profesor de sociología en la Universidad Veracruzana y Ahmed Mulay Ali Ministro Consejero Encargado de Negocios saharaui en México.
1st May 2007
Members of the Committees of support for the Saharawi people were present during various demonstrations organised in Bern and Basel.
In Paris, about fifty Saharawis took part in the May Day March
04.05.07, Western Sahara study day at the University of Leeds
A study day about the present and future of Western Sahara was organized by the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies of the University of Leeds. Entitled "Between War and Diplomacy: New Perspectives for the Western Sahara Conflict," the study day, third of the kind, has been conducted by international researchers and academics specializing in the Western Sahara question. [affiche]
7 al 10 de mayo 2007, Jornadas de las universidades madrileñas
Tiempo de soluciones para el Sahara Occidental
--> mas info y inscripciones: http://www.uam.es/otros/uamsolidaria/ o http://www.uam.es/otros/uamsolidaria/jornadas_sahara_mayo2007.pdf
Del 7 al 11 de Mayo, Centro Cívico Juan de la Cierva, (Plaza de las Provincias), Madrid: ROSTROS DEL SÁHARA. Concejalia de Cooperación Internacional, C/ Madrid nº 10 - 1ª planta, 28901Getafe. Teléfono: 91 2027964. Correo Electronico: cooperación.internacional[at]ayto-getafe.org
Sit in davanti all’Ambasciata del Regno del Marocco di Roma, Sabato 12 maggio 2007 dalle ore 10.30 alle ore 13.00. (cinziaterzi[at]libero.it).
Nouveaux sites en arabe:
Sahara, emergencia humanitaria Alicante: http://www.ayudasahara.com
Best of blogs
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages
>> English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages