WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 48

25.11.-01.12.2001

19-20.10.01
Euromed civil forum of Brussels
In a resolution on the peace and security of the Mediterranean, the Euromed civil forum expressed the view that it is important for the question of Western Sahara "to be resolved because it is impeding the construction of the unity of the Arab Maghreb as an aspiration of all the peoples of the whole region. This resolution should be carried out on the basis of international law and the commitments of the United Nations and the European Union."

22.11.01
Peace Plan
On the subject of the proposal of the SADR President to meet the King of Morocco on neutral ground, the MINURSO spokesperson, questioned by a journalist from As-Sabah, said he was waiting for a reaction from Rabat. If Morocco accepted the proposal, the meeting could take place in the USA or the United Kingdom. Also contacted by the paper, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs did not deign to express an opinion/view/take a stand.  (26.11.01, As-Sabah, Moroccan daily)

23-25.11.01
27th European conference of support to the Saharawi people (continued)
The annual meeting of solidarity with the Saharawi people took place with the participation of 75 associations and NGOs, 60 municipalities, 22 parliamentary delegations, eight trades unions. Among the many speakers coming one after the other to the rostrum, Danielle Mitterrand told the story of her trip to Morocco and expulsion from that country.  Rigoberta Menchù, Nobel Peace Prize winner, expressed astonishment at the failure of the UN in the Sahara before the Saharawi President took the floor to bring up the events of the past year. He condemned again the Framework-Agreement proposal, supported by James Baker and Kofi Annan, and called for the defence of international law "incarnated in the peace plan". A message of thanks from Mohamed Daddach was read.
Discussion in the workshops fell into three urgent issues: the strict implementation of the peace plan, respect for fundamental rights in the occupied territories and opening them to observers, and the alarming situation of humanitarian aid for the refugees, which certain institutions appear to be using for political ends. The route of the Paris-Dakar through Western Sahara, the Sahara marathon at the end of February, the initiatives of the newly created Trades Union Forum and support for political developments in Spain are the challenges of the coming months.

24/26.11.01
Incident
A group of seven Moroccans, accompanied by three journalists, tried to get into the hotel where the conference was being held, although they were neither announced nor accredited. In their vehicle the police found various materials such as some spray paint, a big white banner and leaflets, which lead one to think that the aim of the members of the association Moroccan Sahara was to create trouble in the conference. The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs called the incident an "act of unjustified and unjustifiable flagrant hostility towards Morocco and the Moroccan people", and expressed " the strong protest of the government ..." On the Moroccan TV channel 2M he exclaimed that "the whole of Spain has converted itself into a second Tindouf".  The Spaniards only had "to put up tents in all their towns, whereas they are expelling Moroccan workers."
SpainThe head of Spanish diplomacy "firmly" rejected the Moroccan version of the facts as well as the "uncalled-for" tone of the Moroccan note, regretting that the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs had given credence to versions designed to provoke a deterioration in relations between the two countries.

25.11.01
Spain
In a reply to a parliamentary question, the Spanish government responded that it continues to defend and will go on defending the validity of the United Nations peace plan for the organisation  of a referendum in Western Sahara, and that it will continue to cooperate to unblock the actual situation.

26.11.01
Human rights
El Moutawakil Mohamed, secretary general of the municipality of Assa (southern Morocco), was transferred to Casablanca following a telex from the Ministry of the Interior.  He is a Saharawi former political detainee, arrested in 1992 following the uprising of Assa. With 23 other young Saharawis, he then served a year's prison sentence. He is a member of the Truth and Justice Forum. As a mark of protest against this decision, employees of the municipality organised a sit-in within the municipality. The population of Assa, coming to show solidarity with the local government employees, were dispersed by the police, who proceeded to questioning. Danfour Ahmed Salem, born on 07.12.80 in Assa, was arrested two days later and imprisoned in Goulimine. He was accused of insulting the Moroccan state. He belonged to the group of young Saharawis, who observed a hunger strike in Assa from 01-05 October last (see week 40). The daily As Sabah confirmed the facts but did not speak of arrest.

26.11.01
UN
In a
declaration by its Jamaican president, Patricia Durrant, members of the Security Council expressed their support for the efforts in mediation of the personal envoy of the UN for the region, James Baker, and asked the parties to the conflict to abstain from any action which could aggravate the situation in the region. During discussion in a closed session certain members expressed their concern following the bloody repression of the demonstrations in Smara on 17 November, and about agreements signed between Morocco and oil companies, and the intention of the organisers of the Paris-Dakar to let their competition pass through Saharawi territory. The UN legal department is shortly to deliver a legal opinion on the legality or not of the agreements for oil prospecting.
Boukhari Ahmed, Polisario Front representative in New York, said that Morocco "is realising that there is no further way forward with the absurd idea of the draft framework-agreement. For this reason, Baker and Annan must conclude that the idea is no longer valid". "This explains the absence of a report", he pointed out in an announcement made to EFE.

27.11.01
Security Council resolution
S/RES/1380 (2001) (PDF)
The Council unanimously adopted resolution 1380 (2001), extending the mandate of MUNURSO until 26 February 2002. In the terms of this text, the Council asks the Secretary General to keep it informed of any new or important fact in an interim report due at the latest on 15 January 2002 and to give an update on the situation by 18 February 2002 . The Secretary General proposed, in his letter to the Council on 12.11, a technical extension of MINURSO's mandate for a period of two months only.

27.11.01
OMDH
The Moroccan organisation for the defence of human rights, OMDH, expresses "its stupefaction at the violent intervention of the authorities on the occasion of the events which took place in the town of Smara on 29 October 2001 and arrests, proceedings and violations of freedom of political action following these events. The OMDH calls for the urgent setting up of a parliamentary enquiry, having regard to the strategic place which this region occupies and the serious social problems which abound there.

28.11.01
United States
In a letter to President G W Bush, 15 Congressmen drew his attention to the dangers of war in Western Sahara following  recent events which have occurred in the region. They ask him to use his authority to put pressure on Morocco to make it "honour its commitments and to take/adopt the route/way to a free, fair and transparent referendum". This letter was signed by, among others,  Joseph Pitts, Donald Payne, Teodophus Towns, James A. Traficant Jr, Jim DeMint and Christopher H. Smith. (SPS)

28.11.01
The visit of the King of Morocco to Smara is "a new step in the escalation" and in the repression, in which Mohamed VI "involves himself in person" to "take vengeance" for the failure of his aborted visit at the beginning of November to the occupied Saharawi spiritual capital, Sid'Ahmed Battal, Saharawi Minister of Information declared in an interview with SPS.

29.11.01
Canary Islands
The 5th congress of the Trade Union of workers in the Canaries  (USO-Canarias) which was held recently in Tenerife, expressed its concern at the blockage in the referendum process in Western Sahara, denounced "the attitude of certain European countries, led by France, who continue to look for an autonomy solution contrary to the aspirations of the Saharawi people", and condemned "attacks on human rights" in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and call for the liberation of all Saharawi political detainees and disappeared. (SPS)

30.11.01
France
In a letter sent on 16.11 to the French Prime Minister, the deputy Daniel Paul expresses his "disagreement with the support given by France to initiatives of publicity and the economy which contribute to a strategy of the fait accompli. I wish that our country would come down on the side of a response allowing the Saharawi people to choose its own destiny and to decide who crosses its own country and who exploits its wealth." The French Ambassador in Rabat,  M. de Bonnecorse, questioned by
La Vie économique, a Moroccan weekly, on the position of France on the subject of the "third way", answers: "My country puts the lasting stability of the Maghreb above everything (...). That is why we approve the report of James Baker and we support his method and his proposals. It was necessary to get out of the impasse. (...) The political solution which could be inspired by the plan which he drew up with patience, realism and imagination, is supported by the Security Council and the majority of countries, notably European and African countries. After over 25 years, it was imposing itself, it will impose itself."

30.11.01
Visit of the King of Morocco to Smara
The Moroccan king went to Smara for a 3 hours visit.

COMING UP...

05.12.01, Sesto Fiorentino, Italia: L'Associazione "Ban Slout Larbi" organizza una cena di solidarietà con il Popolo Saharawi che rientra nel ciclo di iniziative «Avvicinarsi al Natale in un percorso di solidarietà...». La cena si svolgerà alle ore 20,30 presso il Circolo ARCI «Salone Rinascita» di via G. Matteotti, 18. Prenotazioni: tel. 0554487677.

15.12.01: piazza Vittorio Veneto sarà presente il «Camion della Solidarietà» diretto alle tendopoli Saharawi. In questa occasione sarà possibile consegnare materiale didattico e giocattoli per i bambini saharawi. Associazione "Ban Slout Larbi"

Route of the Dakar 2002 rally
28.12.01 - 1th stage: Arras - Châteauroux
29.12.01 - 2nd stage: Châteauroux - Narbonne
30.12.01 - 3rd stage: Narbonne - Madrid
31.12.01 - 4th stage: Madrid - Rabat (embarkation in Algeciras)
01.01.02 - 5th stage: Rabat - Er Rachidia
02.01.02 - 6th stage: Er Rachidia - Ouarzazate
03.-04.01.02 - 7th stage: Ouarzazate - Tan Tan -Western Sahara - Zouerate (Mauritania)
......

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

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Der Frente Polisario droht mit neuem Krieg in der Westsahara, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich, 24.11.01, p. 9.

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