A Saharawi delegation with Mohamed Sidati, Minister Councelor of the Presidence, Babba Hassana, minister of Cooperation and Mamma Sidi Abdelhadi, secretary general of the National Union of Saharawi Women, participated to the second workshop about cooperation between Germany and RASD, in the city of Hannover. Representatives of the German ministry of Cooperation, of the governments of Länder, of NGOs and political personalities participated to the session. The participants underlined the importance of the necessary conditions for a fair and free referendum and decided the creation of a national platform for the observation of the referendum. In a second part the discussion turned about the cooperation in the future between the two countries in such domains as education, tourisme, fishery, finance and basic infrastructures.
In the fisrt half of the year 2000 a meeting between German members of Volontary Services Overseas and Saharawi representatives is planned. The delegation has been received by the lordmayor of Hannover, which announced himself as an observer for the referendum.
Later the delegation went to Berlin where it was welcomed at the ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Cooperation as well as by the presidents of the correspondent parliamentary commissions.
Spain: campaign "Que el Sahara no
sea un nuevo Timor"
19, 20, 21.11.99 Basque country and Andalusia
The hunger strike, which took place in a church in Vitoria, had great succes with the media and the general public. The 19 hunger strikers received much support and a visit, among others, from the President of the Basque Parliament.
In Sevilla about twenty Saharawi tents were set up in front of the Presidency of the Andalusian Junta.
22, 23, 24.11.99: Valencia
In Valencia the strike took place at the university. About fifteen people took part, three of them regional MPs. Media reaction was considerable, as well as demonstrations of solidarity by political parties, NGOs etc. An intergroup, "Peace for the Saharawi People", was formed in the parliament following this hunger strike.
The Italian National Association of Support for the Saharawi People and the Western Sahara Campaign UK associated themselves with the Spanish campaign by delivering letters destined for Kofi Annan to the UN Information Centres in their countries.
Open Letter of Mohamed Abdelaziz
In an open letter to the King of Morocco published by the Madrid daily, El Pais, the Saharawi president expressed the wish for independence of the Saharawi people and appealed to the Moroccan sovereign to adhere to the Peace Plan.
The Assistant Commissioner for Refugees, Soeren Jessen-Petersen, visited Algiers, Tindouf, El Ayoun and Rabat, to discuss the programme of repatriation. When he arrived in the Saharawi refugee camps on the 22nd, he expressed pleasure at "the level of collaboration existing over many years between the HCR and the Saharawi side". In an interview with the SPS he stated that the pre-registration operations will soon be finished and that they are taking place in good conditions. He talked with refugees, who expressed their desire to stay east of the wall during the referendum period, because they feared for their safety. Jessen-Petersen stated that "it is more particularly for the political bodies to settle political problems, then the refugees can do exactly what they want".(SPS)
Mr. Jessen-Petersen had talks in Rabat on the 23rd with the new Moroccan Minister for the Interior, Ahmed Midaoui, who reiterated the "complete agreement" of Morocco to "supply all the necessary assistance to the HCR's actions in terms of logistical, technical and material support."
Meeting of the Bureau of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front.
The Bureau paid tribute to the courage of the Saharawi population faced with Moroccan repression and denounced the sentences and arbitrary verdicts. It asked for an international commission of inquiry to be set up and for the lifting of the ban on access to the occupied territory by Morocco. (communiqué from the Saharawi Ministry of Information).
In the name of the European Coordination, Pierre Galand sent a letter (French) to Kofi Annan to inform him of the results of the last European Conference of Support for the Saharawi People. He told him that the Coordination hopes that the report in mid-December to the Security Council will, in particular, contain proposals to prevent Morocco distorting or indefinitely prolonging the identification process prior to the referendum.
The Mauritanian president Maaouiya Ould Taya had an audience with the Saharawi Minister of Education, Saleck Bobih, who brought a message from the President of SADR. Mr Bobih stated to the press that the message bore on "questions of common interest" and on "the latest developments" of the Peace Process in the Sahara.
Moroccan Nuclear Power
A delegation of the OIEA* visited Morocco this month to study the Moroccan request to construct nuclear power plants for the production of electricity, scheduled by 2010. On the other hand, the Canarian Government has offered to deliver free of charge to Morocco a plant for generating electricity by wind power, if the Kingdom renounces nuclear energy. The Technology Institute of the Canaries is in the process of studying the installation of a wind-powered desalination plant to replace the intended reactor in Tan-Tan.
*Organisation internationale pour l'énergie atomique (International Organisation for Atomic Energy)
A group of Saharawi defectors who left the camps in Tindouf between 93 and 96, now living in El Ayoun, have been demonstrating in Rabat since the end of October (see Week 43). 64 people met on 22 November, in front of the royal palace, asking to be received. They were claiming their right to work and housing and reproaching the Ministry of the Interior for not keeping its promises. When the demonstration was dispersed by the forces of order, one person was wounded and three were arrested. (Al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki)
"Chark learnt that Driss Basri was charged by the Moroccan sovereign with receiving the Saudi Minister of the Interior, who arrived in Laayoune as part of a private visit. According to well-informed sources, Basri travelled by private plane to Laayoune airport, arriving at 20.30, and received Prince Nayef before returning to Rabat" (Ach-Chark Al-Awsat).
The Secretary General's special representative, William Eagleton, had talks with Mauritanian authorities in Nouakchott on the 22nd. On the 23rd he met the Saharawi president, Abdelaziz. The same day he was received in Algiers by President Bouteflika, by the head of the government and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Eagleton stated that "no precise date has been set for the referendum". "This is not the right time to try to fix a date", he suggested. On the 25th in Rabat, Eagleton met the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Benaïssa. The next day he was received by the King at Ifrane, in the presence of Benaïssa, Midaui, Minister of the Interior and the Secretaries of State, Taib Fasi Fihri and Fouad Ali al Hima. Mr Eagleton's mission, according to the Moroccan daily, Le Matin du Sahara, is about engaging in consultations with the parties on the way to approach the appeals stage.
Release of Moroccan prisoners
"Following the intervention of the UN Secretary General, of his Special Representative for Western Sahara and of certain countries, some of them members of the Security Council, the Polisario Front decided to liberate 191 Moroccan prisoners of war. The list was given to Mr Eagleton." Five of them were immediately repatriated to Morocco by the IRCC (International Red Cross). According to the Saharawi government, this gesture is meant as "humanitarian gesture and sign of good will illustrating the willingness of the Saharawi side to contribute to the creation of a favourable climate for the implementation of the Settlement Plan and the Houston Agreements" (communiqué of SADR Ministry of Information, french) .
As for Morocco, it has refused, as in the past, to receive the released prisoners of war. The government pointed out, on the 26th, that "'the question of prisoners is the subject of a clause of the UN-Sahara settlement plan and will not be taken up until after the end of the identification process." (MAP).
Report of the Moroccan Organisation of Human Rights (OMDH)
The inquiry undertaken by the Moroccan NGO on 2-3 November in El Ayoun made an issue of a worsening social situation, with violations of human rights, a deterioration in the state of security in El Ayoun, constraints on freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of association and movement, of arbitrary abductions, invasion of homes and irregular proceedings in court. It found that many people have been tortured by the police. The OMDH, while stressing the "purely social nature" of the claims, demands the release of those who have been sentenced and recommends an impartial inquiry. The OMDH lodged a complaint with the Procurator General against members of the security forces.
In his opening speech of the winter session of the National Council (Parliament), its president, Mr Salem Lebsir appealed to the international community and to humanitarian organisations to "bring pressure to bear on the Moroccan government to put an end to the repression against Saharawi citizens, to guarantee their safety, their dignity and their goods as well as releasing all detainees". He appealed to Morocco to "respect its commitments" and indicated that this session would be devoted to "stimulating and hastening legislative work to establish a state of law". According to the SPS agency, this session should adopt in first place the interior regulation of the new parliament, elected last month. The Bureau of the National Council is composed as follows:
President: Salem Lebsir, Vice-president: Mohamed Ali Sid-El-Bechir,
Spokesman: M'rabih El-Mami, members: Ali Allali, Hacenna Houd, Sedoum Mohamed, Mahmoud Lahcen, Mohamed Ouleida.
Six commissions and their chairs:
Mohamed VI received four Saharawi defectors who moved to Morocco recently, and were brought to pledge allegiance to the King. They are Mohamed Abdelkader Haibelti, 78 years, member of the Supreme Council of Justice of SADR, Issalmou Mohamed Abdelkader Ould Haibelti, 44 years, his son, president of the Tribunal of Dakhla, Lafdal Malainine Ould M'rabih Rabbou Ould Sheikh Al Ouali, 44 years, ad hoc Sheik expert for the identification operation, and Mrs Malainine Lalla Oum El-Kheïri Bent Sheikh Sidati, Issalmou's wife, 41 years. They are all members of the same religious marabout family.
The "Independent Hungarian Democratic Party" IHDP "reiterates its unwawering solidarity and support to the Western Sahara people for their struggle for selfdetermination".Therefore IHDP "calls to the support of a free and fair referendum", according to the original peace plan, calls to incrase pressure on Morocco in order to clarify the situation of "disppeared" Saharawis as well as to respect human rights in the occupied Western Sahara.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]