WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 36

03.-09.09.2000

25 - 27.08.00
Australia
The Australian Greens adopted a resolution at their National Conference in which the Australian Green Party:
Supports the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence;
Condemns the gross violations of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara by Morocco;
Expresses its deep concern for the endless delays of the proposed referendum and calls on the UN to put pressure on Morocco to allow the referendum to be organised without further delays;
Urges the Federal Government to extend all due assistance to the UN in its efforts to organise a free and fair referendum for the people of Western Sahara;
Calls on the Federal Government to establish official contacts with the independence movement in Western Sahara: the Polisario Front.

02.09.00
Algeria
The Algerian President, asked about his assessment of the efforts of James Baker by the Saudi TV channel, MBC, replied: "James Baker was making his efforts under the aegis of the United Nations. I have seen him advance ideas which have little to do with the charter, which stipulates that self-determination is a sacred principle. Consequently, I do not have dealings with those who ignore international charters." (
El Moudjahid)

03.09.00
SADR
The Saharawi people should prepare for a return to arms if Morocco persists in its refusal to hold a referendum of self-determination, the Saharawi president Mohamed Abdelaziz announced. He was presiding over a national conference at Chahid El Hafed on mobilisation in reaction to Morocco's refusal to organise the referendum. (
SPS)

04.09.00
Algeria
A committee of support and solidarity with the Saharawi people was created at Mostaganem. It is a regional branch of the National Algerian Committee. (
SPS)

04.09.00
Algeria
Twelve people were arrested during an inquiry into the disappearance of 750 tonnes of spaghetti sent from Italy. These foodstuffs entrusted to the Algerian Red Crescent were humanitarian aid destined under others for the Saharawi refugees. (
El Watan)

05.09.00
UN
On the occasion of the General Assembly of the United Nations, known as of the Millennium, the European Coordination of the Committees of Support to the Saharawi people and the Algerian Committee of solidarity with the Saharawi people sent messages to the president of this Assembly, to the meeting of parlamentarians and to the NGOs with consultative status with the United Nations. The two associations expressed their anxiety over the lack of firmness in making its resolutions respected, which has led the peace plan into an impasse and deprives the Maghreb of an outlook of peaceful coexistence. They appealed for support for the UN peace plan for Western Sahara.

05.09.00
BBC - Morocco
For two years the BBC has been trying to set up in Rabat an office for its monitoring service, which records and translates radio and television broadcasts, and output from news agencies, newspapers and internet throughout the world, in order to market them. Morocco appears to show little enthusiasm to accommodate this service, possibly because of the involvement of Britain in the Moroccan-Saharawi negotiations which have taken place twice in London. Morocco is also thought not to like the amount of space - too much for their taste - given to the Polisario Front in BBC reports. It would impose restrictions on the content to be covered by the British corporation.
The journalists' union (NUJ) and that of radio, cinema and theatre staff (BECTU) recently made known to the BBC their negative opinion of the proposed move of the service to Morocco. They fear for its independence. They reveal that last August those working for this service (who work from Britain) were warned by management that the proposed office in Morocco "might confine its direct, on-site monitoring operations to sources that would not be controversial".
They point out that subjects such as Western Sahara, the king or the Islamic movement are liable to censorship, and quote numerous interventions of the state to prohibit or censor both Moroccan and foreign newspapers, TV broadcasts etc. They are asking how much room for manoeuvre their colleagues in Morocco would have for coverage of the conflict in Western Sahara, and fear that the BBC would impose self-censorship in order not to endanger their colleagues on the ground. They point out that the move is superfluous and think that working in such conditions can only harm the BBC's reputation for independence. (
NJU/BECTU Submission, WSC UK press release)

05.09.00
Western Sahara
Serious accident on the conveyor belt transporting phosphate from Bou-Craa to the coast. Its collapse is thought to have caused the death of three workers.

07.09.00
Spain
Despite the opposition of trade unions and several NGOs, the University of Granada awarded Mohamed VI doctor honoris causa, "for his social merits".

European Union
Written question by Struan Stevenson (PPE-DE) to the Commission (03.07.2000):
In view of Morocco's continuing delays with regard to the EU fishing agreements on Moroccan and Western Saharan waters and its obstruction of the UN referendum in Western Sahara, would the European Commission consider it a positive step to conclude fishing agreements with the Polisario Front as the legitimate and sovereign representative of the people of Western Sahara?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission (1 August 2000):
The Polisario Front is one of the parties involved in the plan for settling the Western Sahara conflict adopted and applied by the United Nations Security Council. The Union, to date, has expressed its support for the implementation of this plan and for the efforts undertaken currently by Mr Baker, the United Nations Secretary-General's representative for this conflict. The Commission, in the event of a future arrangement in the fisheries sector with Morocco, and consequently at the time of any possible negotiations, will refer to "Morocco's fishing zone", this area beingdefined as "the waters coming under the sovereignty and/or the jurisdiction of Morocco". Consequently, currently the only interlocutor with a view to a possible arrangement in the fisheries sector remains Morocco.

SOLIDARITY

02.09.00, Gonfreville l'Orcher, France: the mayor of this commune near Le Havre, Jean-Paul Lecoq, opened a new street named after a Saharawi camp, J'réfia, in the wilaya of Dakhla. Many Saharawi friends attended as well as representatives from twin towns and various support associations.

COMING UP

13.09.00, Washington D.C., USA: US House of Representatives, Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Africa, Hearing: U.N. Referendum for Western Sahara: 9 Years and Counting. Witness: Mr. Allen Keiswetter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Near East Affairs.

24-28.09.00, United Nations, New York City: meeting of the Fourth Committee (on decolonisation) about the Western Sahara question.

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