23th Conference of coordination and support of the Saharawi people, Hérouville Saint Clair, France


220 participants from Germany, Austria, Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Italy, the UK, France, Finland, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and Western Sahara met for the 23rd Conference in support of the Saharawi People in Hérouville Saint Clair on November 14, 15 and 16, 1997.
The Conference reaffirms with enthusiasm its support to the Saharawi People, to its representative, the Polisario Front, and to the social and cultural Saharawi organizations.
The Conference delighted at the renewed and growing interest for the Western Sahara question and the great quality of the participants and the papers delivered during the Hérouville Saint Clair meeting.
Sure of the legitimacy of its claims, the Polisario Front has succeeded, thanks to its determination, in achieving the opening of direct negociations with Morocco, under aegis of the United Nations. The appointment of James Baker by the Secretary General of the United Nations allowed the UNO and AUO peace plan for Western Sahara to be relaunched in an original way.
Considering the exceptional importance of the issues at stake following the direct negociations between the two sides of the conflict and the agreement reached, and the schedule fixed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Conference devoted most of its reflexions to the new situation resulting from the approaching referendum for selfdetermination of the Saharawi people.
The Conference has resolved to bring its whole weight and authority to bear on ensuring that the referendum takes place in free and equitable conditions, controlled wholly and completely by the MINURSO. The Conference insists that the MINURSO must be given the means to carry out its mission throughout Saharawi territory, so as to guarantee the regularity of the voter identification process, to ensure the security and the circulation of voters throughout the territory and guarantee honesty of the votes of the eligible electorate. The vote-count must take place in conditions of strictest transparence under international control.
In oder to have a just and equitable referendum the Conference stresses that the international community and the UN must organize both the destruction of the military walls erected by Morocco in the Western Sahara territory, and the demining of the whole territory.
To guarantee the success of the referendum process, the Conference stresses that the presence of numerous observers, both official and representatives of the international civil society, is absolutely essential.
Given the exceptional character of the referendum process the Conference has resolved on the creation of a European Task Force to follow and control the conditions in which the referendum operations are carried out. The Conference will mobilize political, media, material and financial support in favour of the Polisario Front's referendum campaign. More particularly, the Conference has resolved on setting up of an international observatory composed of personalities known and respected for their honesty and influence, charged with overseeing the correct working of the referendum operations. Another point: the setting up of a communication network will rouse interest and support for the Saharawi cause not only in Europe but also in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The Conference has taken pains to determine the priorities of its action in order to maintain the necessary infrastructures to meet the demands of solidarity, from a material and professional point of view, to answer the needs of the Saharawi population and its associations, to support women and youth organizations and the AFAPREDESA, to mobilize the means to support and co-operate with the Saharawi people in their needs for food, health, transport, communications, education and development.
At the end of its proceedings, the Conference addresses messages to the French government, the European Parliament and Commission, the United Nations and the AUO, urging them to assure the Saharawi people of the respect of its inalienable rights to a referendum of selfdetermination towards independence, for the restoration of peace and the right to live free, in peace and develop its country within internationally recognized frontiers.

The 24th Conference of coordination and support of the Saharawi people will be held in October 1998 in Manchester, Great Britain.

Hérouville, 16 November 1997

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