WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 38

17.-23.09.2000

 

13.09.00
USA
The Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on International Relations of the US House of Representatives organised a hearing on the UN Referendum on Western Sahara.
In his opening statement Chairman Ed Royce recalled that «a vote to determine whether resource-rich Western Sahara is to be incorporated into Morocco or become an independent state was originally set for January of 1992. That's more than eight years ago. Eight years and some $440 miilion later, MINURSO, unfortunately, is far from its goal.» Adding : «Its clear to me that the US and other countries have been unwilling to pressure Morocco enough to achieve the implementation of a fair referendum».
Congressman George Radanovich criticised the American government:«This administration has refused to take a strong stand against the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and the Moroccan government's ongoing reluctance to cooperate with the UN mandated referendum, and I think this establishes a dangerous precedent and sends a wrong signal to potential agressors elsewhere».
Congressman Joseph Pitts, for his part, stated :«Unfortunately, there have been officials from the current US Administration and the French government who appear to be proactively abandoning the negociated, signed settlement plans under the pretext that there allegedly is no mechanism to enforce the result of the referendum.» Adding «Our nation was birthed and established on the right to self-determination. It is utterly bewildering that Americans would actually believe that another group of people does have the right to vote for their future - it is arrogant and unjust...» To conclude : "It is time for the United Nations to hold the referendum and uphold the results».

13-15.09.00 European Parliamentary Intergroup
A delegation of members of the European Parliamentary Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People" including French, Spanish and British MEPs stayed from 13-15 September in the Saharawi Refugee camps. On its return the delegation appealed to the Council and to the French presidency of the EU asking them to play a more active role to guarantee the implementation of the UN peace plan.
In a press release the delegation makes known the anxiety and disappointment observed among the Saharawi population, confronted with constant postponements of the referendum. It stressed the need for the EU to support the efforts of the United Nations to implement the signed agreements and asks for a reinforcement of humanitarian aid to the refugees. It concludes that only a solution which respects the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination would allow all the peoples of the region, including the Moroccan people, to build a future in peace and stability. (
SPS)

UN - Referendum
«The settlement plan (...) remains the practical and realistic option which would assure a just and durable solution to this conflict», the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, said from the rostrum of the General Assembly. (
14.09.00, aps)
«My country wishes to reiterate its willingness to do whatever it can to facilitate the implementation of the UN settlement plan aimed at resolving the conflict in Western Sahara», the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahmed Ould Sid'Ahmed added. (
16.09.00 ami)

Visit of Mohamed VI to Spain
During a gala dinner in honour of the king of Morocco on the first day of his visit, the Spanish sovereign, Juan Carlos, renewed his appeal «to spare no efforts to resolve the outstanding contentious issues, and notably the differences about Western Sahara.» Spain is convinced, he added, that «only a real will for cooperation between the parties involved would enable the difficulties which still prevent the implementation of the peace plan to be overcome and to bring about the process of building the Maghreb.»
The representative of the Polisario Front in Spain welcomed with satisfaction the request of the King of Spain, hoping that it had been well attended to by Mohamed VI. «It is time to correct the tri-partite Madrid accords (signed in 1975 by Spain, Morocco and Mauritania)», he added. Questioned about the forthcoming Moroccan-Saharawi negotiations in Berlin at the end of the month, Ghali appeared pessimistic about a result. (
El Mundo)

This visit gave occasion to various protest demonstrations organised by the solidarity movement with the Saharawi people.
Many associations, institutions, trades unions etc, as well as 114 municipalities making up the Catalan Coordination of town councils supporting the Saharawi people, signed an open letter to the king of Morocco, asking for the organisation of the referendum.
A peaceful gathering in front of the Madrid Town Hall, where the King of Morocco was to be received by the municipality, was dispersed on Tuesday 19 September by the police, 15 participants were arrested. The demonstrators were protesting against human rights abuses in Western Sahara and against the obstacles which Morocco is putting in the way of the referendum. Despite the vigilance of the police, six demonstrators were nevertheless able to brandish placards inside the hall, within sight of the Moroccan guests.
During the official sitting of the parliament, cries of «Morocco out of the Sahara» rang out from the public gallery.
The Spanish League for Human Rights strongly protested against the attitude of the police force. The representatives of the United Left boycotted the reception offered by the city of Madrid to the Moroccan sovereign by way of protest.
In the evening several thousand demonstrators (between 3000 and 5000 according to different sources) took part in a protest march in the centre of Madrid. The demonstrators demanded the respect of human rights in the territories occupied by Morocco and the rapid implementation of the referendum of self-determination.
A march also took place in Barcelona. (
Spanish press, SPS)
The Spanish branch of Amnesty International sent a letter to King Juan Carlos and to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the King of Morocco Mohamed VI. AI is concerned that the improvement in human rights in Morocco does not extend to the inhabitants of Western Sahara and denounces the very limited freedom of association, movement and expression given to Saharawis. The human rights association points out that many of them suffer because the authorities refuse to acknowledge the abuses they have been subjected to in the past, it points out also that a good number of the 450 disappeared Saharawis have not been recognised as such. It is also concerned that the persecutors and torturers remain unpunished.

18.-21.09.00
South Africa
Mr Mohamed Cheikh, General Secretary of the UGTSARIO, the General Union of Saharawi Workers, took part in the 7th national congress of South African Trade Unions COSATU. The 3000 South African delegates gave him a warm welcome and reaffirmed the support and solidarity of their movement for the Saharawi cause. They decided in a resolution to undertake a campaign of solidarity with UGTSARIO and the Saharawi people.(
corr., SPS)

Support for the UN-OAU settlement plan
Various Saharawi emissaries are on missions as part of a diplomatic campaign currently being carried out by the Polisario Front and the SADR government to raise international awareness about the question of decolonisation of Western Sahara and to alert people to the dangers represented by Morocco's blocking of the implementation of the peace plan and the attempt to abandon the referendum in favour of another way.

Venezuela : The president of the Saharawi National Council (parliament), Salem Sidi Brahim was received by the president of the National Assembly, Dr William Lara. (SPS 16.09.00)

Kenya: The SADR Ambassador in Ethiopia and permanent representative with the OAU started a tour of several African countries. Bringing a message from President Mohamed Abdelaziz, Mr Fadel Ismail went first to Kenya. (SPS 18.09.00)

South Africa: When receiving the emissary of the SADR President, Mr M'Hamed Khaddad, the South African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed the commitment of his country to the respect of the right of self-determination of the Saharawi people. (SPS 19.09.00)

Mexico: The government of Mexico has reaffirmed its support for the referendum during talks with the minister and director general for Africa, Mr Federico Urruchua Durand, with the Saharawi diplomat, Mr Khatri Addouh. (SPS 19.09.00)

Madagascar: The Madagascan Minister for Communications and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterated the support of his country for the UN-OAU peace plan during talks with the SADR emissary, Mr Mohamed Bouzeid, Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs.(SPS 20.09.00)

Lesotho: Mr M'hamed Khaddad, member of the national secretariat of the Polisario Front and coordinator with MINURSO, was received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lesotho. Officials expressed their support for the right to self-determination and their complete backing for the Saharawi cause. (SPS 20.09.00)

Botswana: Meeting the SADR emissary Mr M'hamed Khaddad, the President of Botswana repeated the strong support of his country to the right for self-determination of the Saharawi people. (SPS 23.09.00)

20.09.00
Italy
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lamberto Dini, replying to a letter sent to him by over 100 Italian parliamentarians inviting the government to back the UN peace plan, has written that Italy continues to support firmly the referendum process both in the United Nations and in the context of the European Union. He added that the Italian government follows closely the efforts of the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General and is aware of the difficulties encountered, adding that it is evident that an explicit abandonment of the road to the referendum for a 'third way' would risk increasing tension in the difficult relationship between Algeria and Morocco, which is a fundamental landmark for any prospect of regional integration in the Maghreb and even for the stability of the Western Mediterranean.(
corr.)

COMING UP

March on Tazmamart
The Forum for Truth and Justice (Morocco) is organising on 6 October a march on Tazmamart, the secret prison of Hassan II.

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