The Saharawi information centre in Algiers organised a cultural exhibition from 12-31 October on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of national Saharawi unity.
The president of the parliament of Navarre, José Luis Castejón, received the Saharawi representative of that province and gave him the political declaration approved by the parliament, denouncing the recent Moroccan repression in El Ayoun.
In a declaration on the television channel ANN based in London, the Moroccan minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mohamed Benaïssa, stated a propos of Western Sahara that «the Americans have never had a position for or against Morocco. The United States understands the position of the Kingdom and the legitimacy of the Moroccan question».
The director of the North African department of the Swedish ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Hans Ahlberg, paid a visit to the town of El Ayoun.
Saharawi students organised a protest march in Agadir, others attempted to gather in front of the town hall of Assa (South Morocco) before being dispersed by security forces. These demonstrations are the continuation of the solidarity movement with victims of the Moroccan repression in El Ayoun. Similar demonstrations took place in Smara and Tan-Tan. (SPS)
A group of young Saharawi students from El Ayoun are in Rabat to raise awareness with different political authorities and the parliament about the legitimacy of their claims. Concerning the events which took place in El Ayoun at the end of September, they asked for an inquiry so that those responsible should be identified and the guilty punished.
Breaking a taboo, a Moroccan weekly speaks of two thousand prisoners of war detained by the Polisario Front, expressing the opinion that Morocco «should do everything» to have them repatriated. (Le Journal)
Senia Ahmed, representative of the Polisario Front in Switzerland and to the UN, held a press conference for the Genevan press. During the press conference she stated that «Morocco is going down the same road as Indonesia», expressing the view that the tragedy experienced by East Timor is a bad omen for the Sahara.
The commander of MINURSO forces, the Austrian general, Bernd Lubenik, finished his mandate on 30 October after two years' service. He made his farewells with President Abdelaziz, the Minister of Defense and with the Saharawi military commanders. Addressing the Saharawi media, he expressed the hope that a lasting peace would be established in the region, praising the patience of the Saharawi side and emphasising the benefits he has gained from his contact with the Saharawi population. (SPS)
Saharawi National Council
The Saharawi Parliament met in an inaugural sitting at Tifariti (liberated territories of SADR). Made up of 51 members elected for 18 months, the parliament legislates for and controls all the authorities of the Polisario Front and of SADR, through regional offices who supervise the implementation of government programs. 34 members represent the wilaya, 7 represent the national institutions and 10 the army. Scarcely 11% of members are women. More than half the MPs are new, their average age is 38. The next day the Parliament elected its president, Salem Lebsir, by 33 votes against 7 for Hamma Salama and 1 for Abdallahi Lehbib. The Parliament is yet to elect the vice-president, the commissions and their chairs, and to adopt its internal regulations. (SPS).
UN Committee of Human Rights, Geneva
Examination of the 4th periodic report of Morocco
Morocco presented its 4th report, in conformity with the International Pact relating to civil and political rights. Questioned by the experts of the Commission about the identification process for electors for the referendum, the Moroccan representatives assured them that Morocco continues to cooperate with the UN. On human rights, the Moroccan delegation declared that the inhabitants of Western Sahara enjoy the same rights as elsewhere in the developed world. Concerning the cases of forced disappearances, the delegation replied that Morocco was ready to make inquiries into all cases of disappearance, claiming that many 'disappeared' returned to the Polisario Front or died on the battle field. In her observations the president stressed that attacks on human rights persist in Morocco. She said she was preoccupied by the considerable delay in the referendum and by the fact that the Moroccan report did not mention disappearances. «We cannot turn over the page of disappearance without clarifying the cases», Mrs Medina Quiroga added.
The Euro-Moroccan Friendship Circle, a private pro-Moroccan organisation, organised a colloquium on the theme: «Morocco-Europe, a Common Destiny» in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels. The Moroccan Prime Minister, Youssoufi, co-President of the colloquium with Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, told a floor of eminent personalities, that Morocco is definitively oriented towards a state of law and that it needs stability and economic development. He made a plea for Europe to do everything possible to aid Morocco. Pierre Galand, President of the European Coordination for Support to the Saharawi People, drew the attention of R Prodi to the inhuman practices of Morocco in the occupied territories and expressed the hope that he would remind the Moroccan Prime Minister «how much importance European countries and the community of non-governmental organisations in Europe attach» to the holding of the referendum in Western Sahara.
Blanes, Girone, Catalonia: Families welcoming Saharawi children during the holidays decided to create a collective. This association wishes to maintain and develop friendship links with the Saharawi people and support the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. With this aim it will gather signatures on a petition which will be sent to the authorities of the commune so that they will subscribe to these goals.
La Rioja, Spain, 16.10.99: 80 Saharawi children, who could not come to Spain for lack of aeroplanes, will be welcomed in December in the autonomous province of La Rioja.
Alfaro, La Rioja, Spain: a new solidarity group has been formed in this province, the Asociación Alfareña de Amigos del Sáhara, which has already 80 members and which proposes, among other things, to contribute to the organisation of the referendum in July 2000 in Western Sahara.
NEW ON THE INTERNET
On the site of the British public service union, UNISON: Western Sahara, A Struggle for Freedom
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