WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 52

24.-31.12.2000

 

15.12.00
Maritime border of Canary Islands
The Spanish Embassy in Rabat has indicated, in a communiqué, that the news broadcast by certain Moroccan media on the subject of a supposed and recent unilateral delimitation by Spain of its maritime spaces around the Canary archipelago are without foundation. Three years ago, Spanish authorities had fixed the maritime border of the Canary Islands, that is the exclusive economic zone to the Canaries, by application of the rule of equidistance. Morocco, which has asked for clarification from Spain, is currently examining the Spanish response.

19.12.00
Algerian-Moroccan relations
The Algerian minister of the interior, Yazid Zerhouni, denied a rumour that the Algerian president had been victim of an attempted crime, adding that the rumour came from Rabat and certain Middle Eastern states, with the aim of destabilising Algeria. (
Algerian press)

25.12.00
Mohamed VI, King of the Poor
Morocco is getting poorer. In 1998-99, nearly one Moroccan in five (19%) was living in poverty, compared with one Moroccan in ten in 1990-91 (13.1%). The number of people living below the poverty line has risen from 3.36 million to 5.31 million in 1999. This means 2 million more poor people. Definition: a 'poor person' today is living on less than 10.90 DH ($1) per person per day in an urban setting, and 8.40 DH ($0.80) in arural area. (
L'Économiste, Morocco)

27.12.00
Spain
The Spanish government, in reply to a parliamentary question, expressed the view that it is 'imperative' that Morocco and the Polisario Front act 'with prudence' in the conflict which sets the one against the other. It expresses assurance that it will continue 'to promote an atmosphere of confidence and collaboration'. Madrid 'is making its support of the peace plan a permanent factor in its policies' and encourages the parties to cooperate with the UN. (
La Provincia)

28.12.00
African Union
SADR has ratified the founding act of the African Union. The Saharawi Ambassador with the OAU, Fadel Ismail, handed over the letter of notification of the ratification to the Secretary general of the OAU. The founding act had been signed by the Saharawi president on 12.07. in Lomé during the last summit of the OAU. (
Saharawi Ministry of Information)

Paris-Dakar Rally 2001

The Paris-Dakar rally, a motorised caravan carrying 2000 people, every year enjoys intense media coverage. This pseudo-sporting event, which has been criticised for some years for its environmental, social and human impacts, has returned to its old route this year. It is due to cross, under Moroccan government protection, occupied Western Sahara, without taking account of the Saharawi people and thus taking the risk of setting off a return to war.
The route in Europe goes from Paris to Almeria through Narbonne and the Catalan coast. In Morocco the caravan ends up in Goulimine, on 7 January it is due to cross the Moroccan-Saharawi border south of the oasis of M'seyed, to reach Smara. The next day the competitors will leave Western Sahara by crossing the defensive wall just at the place where it touches or crosses Mauritanian territory, to the north of Bir-Moghrein.
After the decision of the Polisario Front to take up arms "the very day that the Paris-Dakar rally crosses the Moroccan-Saharawi border", (22.12.00,
communiqué of the Saharawi Ministry of Information) the organisers of the Rally refused to modify the route, affirming on 23.12.00 that they are well aware of the situation in the region and that the Moroccan and Mauritanian governments are the only people they are speaking with.
The Moroccan minister of Foreign Affairs, Benaïssa, announced on 25 December that "Morocco is determined to break any attempt or any act aiming to attack its security and its stability on the totality of its territory from Tangiers to Lagouira".
The Saharawi minister of Foreign Affairs describes these words as a "provocation" which "aims to give false assurances to the organisers of the rally" and retorts that the territory of Western Sahara has never been recognised by the international community as a part of Morocco. (
communiqué 26.12.00)
Mauritania reacts officially on 27.12: "Full security conditions will be maintained and reinforced right along the route through Mauritanian territory."

First demonstration
A large number of Saharawis and friends of the Saharawi people demonstrated in Barcelona when the Spanish runners were leaving for Paris. On their banners one could read: "The Saharawi people is not participating in the Rally".

Numerous organisations have already protested against this attack on the rights of the Saharawi people through communiqués and appeals to the UN Secretary General, as well as to their respective governments, to stop the return to war and to speed up the holding of the referendum.
See the special page:
http://www.arso.org/Paris-Dakar/parisdakar.htm

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