Referendum. A highlevel UN delegation on tour in the Maghreb

Even though the SG in his last report (S/1998/849 of 11.09.98) declared Mr Baker had to pursue his contacts with the parties in order to evaluate the implementation of the settlement plan and a new round of negotiations or a visit of James Baker in the region were announced, now highlevel UN responsibles made this week an exploratory mission in the region.
The UN delegation, leaded by Bernard Miyet, Assistant SG in charge of peacekeeping operations, accompanied by Charles Dunbar, Special Representative, Robert Kinloch, President of the Identification Committee and Mrs Louise Laheurte, chief of peacekeaping operations in Africa, visited from Oct. 18 to 23 the Maghreb capitals with the purpose to find a solution to carry the peace plan.
On Oct. 18 the delegation is at Rabat, meeting Driss Basri, Moroccan Minister of Interior. On 19 it reaches the Saharawi refugee camps and wellcomed by the Saharawi Prime Minister before talks with a delegation of the Polisario Front, leaded by Emhammed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO. On day 20 the delegation is received by the SADR President, it continues its trip to Nuakchott where it meets President Uld Taya. It reaches El Ayun, MINURSO headquarters, on day 21, and continues to Rabat, where the delegation meets on the next day A. Filali, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs. The delegation concludes its tour at Algier on Oct. 23 with talks with the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Attaf.
During this journey Mr Miyet transmitted to the parties proposals elaborated with Mr Baker concerning the identification of the contested tribal groups, the appeals in matter of identification, the repatriation of the refugees and a new project of timetable for the referendum, which could take plae at the end of 1999. B. Miyet declared: "I came here on demand of the UN SG in order to stimulate the peace process. I will meet all the parties in order to registrate there opinions the most clearly possible. Then I will present a report to the SG with my opinions and conclusions. Consequently Mr Annan will inform the Security Council." The next SG report will be published on Oct. 26. Mr Annan himself, on a official visit in the region planned from Nov. 7 to 16, will formalize the agreement of the parties to carry out the peace process (MINURSO, SADR Information Ministry).


According to an Algerian newspaper Morocco still keeps in jail 16 Algerian militaries, arrested during the years 1975-1992 in the frame of the Western Sahara conflict. 15 others have been liberated precedently. Rabat did never recognize the existence of these prisoners (El Watan, 07.10.98).

The International Commission on Human Rights of the London-based Islamic Observation Centre called for international pressure to force Morocco to "declare the names of those responsible for human rights violations and bring them to a public trial." "A commission of inquiry composed of Moroccan and foreign groups should be set up to investigate the conditions of prisoners and Morocco detention centres," it added (Reuters 16.10.98).

In a press conference at the seat of the International Federation of the Human Rights Leagues in Paris the president of the Federation declared that the number of the announced "disappeared" in Morocco is smaller than the reality. He asked for elucidation and for the creation of an independent inquiry committee.

About Saharawi "disappeared"
The recently published list by Morocco does not mentioned the "disappeared" Saharawis. A list of 167 "disappeared" transmitted to the UN by AFAPREDESA can be consulted on the web site http://www.derechos.org/afapredesa/doc/lista.html

According to a French newspaper publishing the testimony of a Moroccan soldier jailed secretly for 18 years in Algeria, the Algerian army captured in the late seventies, outside the Western Sahara conflict, about 500 Moroccan soldiers. 150 of them have been released in 1987, "about 300 were transferred 1994 to Tinduf, the "capital" of the SADR", details the article, adding that the ICRC "could take contact with them, and so be informed that 50 other militaries were in a camp in Algeria", named Boghar, near Ksar El-Bukhari. They were liberated at Chistmas 1996. The Moroccan authorities forbid them to speak (Le Monde, 22.10.98).

Moroccan Prime Minister Yussufi announced he will visit soon the "Saharan provinces" (meaning occupied Western Sahara) (AFP).

21.10. 98
The Swedish demining unit achieved its work after 4 months. The 60 Swedish militaries cleared several crossing points of the berm in order to permit the return of the Saharawi refugees (MINURSO).

Complaint against King Hassan II

According to the daily El Mundo (Madrid) a Spanish lawyer lodged a complaint against Hassan II for genocide against the Saharawi people, an imprescriptible crime. Francisco Fernandez Goberna presented on Sept. 15 a document to the magistrate accusing the "highest political and military authority" of Morocco of "criminal acts against the civil population" of Western Sahara in the years 1975 to 1990. In a second document presented on Oct. 8 he enlarged the accusation and presented a list of 168 "disappeared" Saharawis. His aim is to refer Morocco to the International Penal Court, recently created in Rom, as well as Argentina and Chile. The dossier is presently in the hand of the judge Baltasar Garzon.


1st conference of cooperation with the Saharawi people about education, University of Murcia, Spain, 27-29.11.98. For information: pcandela@fcu.um.es, aguilar@fcu.um.es, yoruba@apdo.com


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