Former President of Mauritania, Mokhtar Ould Daddah (15.02.99)
«At present, I see no other solution than to pursue the difficult path of a referendum on the Sahara. For Mauritania, it's an important issue that must be addressed: geography, history and ethnicity have created a Sahrawi population that is from the same stock as the people of northern Mauritania. This is a difficult problem to resolve.» (Jeune Afrique Economie)

"UMA: Present and future"

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA), the International Studies Association held an international seminar in Tunis. During the proceedings, a Tunisian participant, Mr. Ounaïes, stressed the need to resolve the issue of the Western Sahara as quickly as possible. The seminar ended with a reading of the "Tunis declaration," which called for an atmosphere of "friendship and dialogue among Maghrebian States," and "to pursue united Maghrebian action," as well as "to overcome obstacles to a united Maghrebian front." (APS Algiers, La Presse Tunis)

The Polisario Front applauded this initiative by Maghrebian intellectuals and took the opportunity to reiterate the Sahrawis' deep attachment to the Maghrebian ideal and the participation of the Sahrawi government in the construction of an inclusive Greater Maghreb. Polisario did, however, criticize the fact that not all Maghrebians were represented at the seminar (Official statement from the Ministry of Information of the SADR)

A.I. congress

Amnesty International's next congress will be held in Morocco on August 18, 1999. Mohammed Sektaoui, general secretary of the Moroccan chapter of Amnesty International, stated that Morocco is one of the most likely countries to take on a key role in the promotion of a culture of respect for human rights in North Africa and the Near East. He added that some 500 members representing 150 countries are expected to attend the congress in Morocco.

Human rights

Two Sahrawis have been handed over to Morocco by Spanish authorities after having been detained in the Canary Islands (see week 07). (Participate in the Urgent Action .

United States: Statement

The conflict in the Western Sahara has dragged on too long, according to Martin Indyk, assistant to the Secretary of State for the Middle East and North Africa. It has swallowed up important resources that could have been put to better use in the region, he added during a presentation before the Hannibal Club, a newly created think-tank in Washington, chaired by Robert Pelletreau, a former senior foreign affairs officer. Mr. Indyk pointed out Washington has always encouraged Morocco and Polisario to cooperate with the UN. He stressed that the referendum was originally proposed by Morocco and that the United States has always played a supportive role. "If Morocco no longer wants a referendum, it should say so," he concluded (APS).

Austrian Parliament

The Austrian Parliament passed a resolution that calls on the government to fully support the UN Secretary General's efforts to implement the peace plan for the Western Sahara and to urge the parties involved in the conflict to actively contribute to a positive result by mid-March 1999.

The town of Gothenburg has this week been sentenced by the court of appeal for having granted allowances to the local Moroccan committee. The allowances have now been stopped. The former head of this committee was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for espionage in 1997 (see week 51 / 96, 43 / 97 and 47 / 97 ). According to the Swedish police the committee is identical to ATCM (Amicale des Travailleurs et Commerçants Marocains), a spy organisation controlled by the Moroccan regime. The Moroccan committee is forbidden in Norway and Denmark.

23th anniversary of the proclamation of the SADR

On celebration of the 23th Anniversary of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic the Association of Indian Africanists and the Embassy of SADR organised a reception and a seminar on 26 February 1999, in New Delhi on "U.N. PEACE PLAN IN WESTERN SAHARA: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS" Former Union Minister Govt.of India, many senior diplomates accredited to India, politicians, acadimicians, the press and the Director of the U.N. information Centre attended the event. The seminar extendes it support to U.N. and O.A.U. to organise a free, fair and transparent referendum in Western Sahara in accordance with the terms of the peace plan and the Houston Agreements, as accepted by Morocco and Polisario. The seminar calls upon the U.N. to speed up the decolonisation of Western Sahara, which remains the last colony in Africa.


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