A delegation of the Association of Saharawi Jurists took part in the 15th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, which was held jointly with the 12th continental conference of the Asociacion Americana de Juristas in Havana. In a declaration, the congress supports the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence and exhorts the international community and all the lawyers of the world to save the peace plan for Western Sahara.
The president of SADR, Mohamed Abdelaziz, in an interview published by the French daily, Le Monde, notes that since the coming of the new king of Morocco, Mohamed VI, "in regard to Western Sahara, nothing has changed. (...) If there is anything new, it's the blocking of the implementation of the peace plan." (...) The Saharawi leader is disposed to continue negotiations with Morocco, "under the aegis of the personal special envoy of the UN Secretary General, in the context of the settlement plan". "We will continue to accept the cease-fire", he asserted, but the Polisario will not "in any case" accept that the presence of the blue berets "is only to maintain the status quo or to be a screen for a solution which goes beyond the strict respect of the freely expressed choice of the Saharawi people".
Three MEPs from the socialist group in the European Parliament visited the Saharawi refugee camps. Questioned by SPS, Carlos Carnero declared that Spain should ask the EU to commit itself to peace in Western Sahara and for the implementation of the settlement plan. He was accompanied by MEPs Francisca Sauquillo, who chairs the MPDL (Movimento por la Paz, el Desarme y la Libertad) and Maria del Carmen Cerdeira, chair of Solidaridad Internacional. (SPS)
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, reiterated its complete support "for the efforts of the Polisario Front and the General Union of Saharawi Workers" in their struggle for national independence. It asks the government to recognise SADR and deplores the "disturbing clumsiness" of the UN in the implementation of the peace plan. (SPS)
A parliamentary committee of friendship with SADR, consisting of five members of parliament and a permanent secretariat, has been created in Costa-Rica. (SPS)
In his speech on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Green March, the Moroccan sovereign repeated, concerning the conflict in Western Sahara, that "any solution can only happen within the framework of unanimity, of national sovereignty and international law." Mohamed VI recalled that Morocco had proposed "a political solution in the context of Moroccan sovereignty and of national and territorial unity (...) with the promotion of wider decentralisation and regionalisation". He called for "more national global mobilisation" in order to "win the case in the artificial conflict around this question", without, however, making clear the details of the solution envisaged.
The Nigerian president sent a message to the Saharawi President, in which he stressed that his country " will continue to support the legitimate right to self-determination of the Saharawi people." Mr Obasanjo declared himself "upset" by the delay in the implementation of the UN plan and deplored the fact that enormous resources had been invested up until now without any result. He called for "a rapid decolonisation" of Western Sahara, being convinced that the Maghreb cannot achieve a lasting peace except by respecting the will of the Saharawi people. (SPS)
The Rabat court of appeal acquitted, for lack of evidence, 14 Saharawi students accused of violence against members of the forces of order and of illegal occupation of the public highway (see week 43). They were liable to get 20 years in prison. In the course of the trial it appeared that the 14 accused had been rounded up indiscriminately by the police. The procurer recognised that "acts of violence had been committed but we cannot say with certainty who committed them". Summing up the trial, the chief editor of the Moroccan weekly, Demain, pointed out that the state of mind of the 14 accused "(...) denotes a disaffection and distrust of the population of the southern provinces towards everything represented by the north. (...) The populations of the north of Morocco look down on the Saharawis. And the latter complain, for good reasons or bad, of being the victims of latent racism. It is a vicious circle." (Demain, quoted by the press review of the French embassy in Rabat).
The Moroccan commission for the compensation of former political detainees is said to have paid compensation to detainees of Tazmamart as well as to 15 other persons who include Saharawis (As-Sabah, quoted by the press review of the French embassy in Rabat).
The police dispersed a demonstration of Saharawi unemployed graduates in Tan-Tan, who were demanding work. During the confrontations which followed, 25 or 27 demonstrators (according to various sources) were wounded, and three seriously. (As-Sabah, quoted by the press review of the French embassy in Rabat, SPS).
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