26.12.99 - 01.01.2000

Mr. Robert Mugabe reaffirmed the position of his movement and his country in favour of the cause of the Saharawi people, on the occasion of the 3rd Congress of the National African Union of Zimbabwe / Patriotic Front (ZANU/FP) in Harare, which was attended by a delegation from the Polisario Front (

The three Saharawis who disappeared on 6 December have been arrested, it is claimed, "according to the rules of law in force" and held in police custody "for 48 hours", says
Le Journal, the Moroccan weekly, quoting police sources (according to our information, the disappeared have not been taken to court and we do not know of what they are accused). Le Journal indicates that the police are looking for other persons, including Mohamed Salem Mayara, which would explain the road blocks which have been set up during the past week "over the whole of the territory". Mohamed Salem Mayara escaped from the police who came to collect him from his home in El Ayoun on 6 December, according to the SPS of 11.12.99.

«The Western Sahara conflict, unresolved for over two decades, must qualify as the world's most neglected. It has been relegated to the background by higher profile disputes in Bosnia, Kosovo, Angola and Somalia. The recent referendum in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which led to it being granted independence by Indonesia, as well as current political changes in Morocco, should focus international attention on the similar case of Western Sahara. The two were abandoned by their colonial masters, Spain and Portugal, who did not bother to discover the wishes of the people before leaving. This led to military annexation by rampaging neighbours: Indonesia in East Timor and Morocco and Mauritania in Western Sahara. Independence movements waged guerrilla struggles in both, challenging what they saw as alien occupation. For decades, both Indonesia and Morocco &endash; allies of the West &endash; were considered too important to trouble with issues as trivial as self-determination. The fall of Suharto in Indonesia was followed by a referendum and the granting of independence to East Timor. The United Nations supervised vote was not the organisation's finest hour. Will the death in July of King Hassan II of Morocco give the UN another chance to sample opinions on independence, this time in the Western Sahara?» (
summary of an article by Dr Adekeye Adebajo, Research Associate at the International Peace Academy in New York).

Human Rights
Some three hundred people have called for the installation of "a real state of law" in Morocco. Organised by the Moroccan Forum for Truth and Justice, this demonstration brought together former political detainees and militants from human rights organisations. Holding lit candles as a sign of hope, the demonstrators expressed the wish that: "the tragedies of the dark days marked by torture, arbitrary imprisonment, forced disappearances and iniquitous trials would not happen any more". They also appealed for the "end of impunity". "We wish to know the whole truth about these atrocities and then afterwards punish their perpetrators, if we are really going to be able, once and for all, to turn the page on human rights in Morocco", the demonstrators chanted (
Agence France Presse).

Occupied Western Sahara: new Moroccan governors
The King of Morocco has nominated Mohamed Machichi wali (chief governor) of the region of Oued Eddahab-Lagouira (south part of occupied Western Sahara) and governor of the province of Oued Eddahab. Born 1948 at Warzazat, Machichi was formerly prefect of Tiznit. An other offical of the ministery of Interior, Noureddin Lahbil, born 1951 at Oujda, becomes governor of the province of Boujdour (he replaces Faisal Meziani, who figures on the list of persons prevented from leaving Morocco after the dismissal of Basri, see Week 46/99). The replacement of Omar Hadrami, a Saharawi renegade, as governor of the province of El Kelaâ of the Sraghna, should also be noted.

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