WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 49

02.-08.12.2001

26.11.01
Trades Union Memorandum
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) , the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), the Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.) as well as Solidaridad de Trabajadores Vascos (ELA-STV), meeting in Madrid, sent a memorandum (
spanish) to the Spanish Government, which is taking on the next presidency of the EU. These trades unions ask that the EU should play an active and independent role in the resolution of conflicts in the Euro-mediterranean region, among others, in the conflict in Western Sahara.

02.12.01
France - referendum
The French President, Jacques Chirac, on a visit to Morocco was asked during a press conference about a possible mediating role for France in the conflict in Western Sahara. He emphasised that the "only mediation" going on about the issue of "the southern provinces of Morocco" was that provided by the representative of the UN Secretary General, James Baker.  This declaration, which follows word for word the Moroccan position on the fait accompli of annexation, provoked a strong reaction from the government of SADR, saying it "shamelessly violates international law". "The unconditional alignment along Moroccan lines going so far as using Makzen terminology to designate Western Sahara scorning international law, the right of peoples to decide their destiny and the principle of the intangibility of African borders reveals  French colonialist calculations in the Maghreb region", Mohamed Abdelaziz pointed out, adding that "France has disqualified herself and from now on cannot claim to have any neutrality and even less claim a role in the settlement of the Moroccan-Saharawi conflict." (
AFP, SPS, Min.Info. RASD, communiqué AARASD, communiqué AFASPA )

A spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, replying to a question about Chirac's statements, tried to calm things down by claiming that the position of France on the question of Western Sahara has remained the same and that it supports the efforts of the United Nations. The official terminology to describe Western Sahara is that used by the United Nations: Western Sahara, he explained. (04.12.01, min. AEF )

03.12.01
Repression
At the beginning of December ten Saharawis were arrested in El Ayoun, accused of having taken part in demonstrations. It is claimed they have been tortured and their houses searched. The families have made complaints.
16 people, 13 Saharawis and three Moroccans, including the journalist Darif, arrested during the uprising in Smara on 17.11.01, is still in prison in El Ayoun. Their sentencing has been postponed twice. (
communiqué BERDHSO, SPS)

The Secretary General of OADP (Party of governmental coalition) declared to As-Sabah, after a visit to El Ayoun, that he knew only that Darif had asked for medical expertise and that the trial had been postponed so that traces of violence could have time to disappear. Several people from Smara arrested at the same time as Darif have told As-Sabah that he had been tied to a chair and that each time a policeman or official came the other detainees had to treat him as an agent of the Polisario. (As Sabah, 05.12.)

Two Saharawis arrested for having taken part in the demonstration in Assa about a member of the Forum for Truth and Justice, transferred to Casablanca, should be presented soon to the court in Goulimine.

Saharawi students from the universities of Rabat organised two sit-ins in front of the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of the Interior to protest about the waves of repression in Smara, El Ayoun, Goulimine and Assa-Zak. (corr., 05.12.)

04.12.01
Danielle Mitterrand
The president of France Libertés, during a press conference, told about her recent mission to the Saharawi refugee camps and to Morocco. She denounced the incapacity of the international community to implement the United Nations Peace Plan for Western Sahara, the signing of contracts for oil exploration in the territorial waters of Western Sahara between Morocco and, in particular, Total Fina Elf.  She said that she was convinced that peace in the Maghreb region would not be lasting unless there is a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people.

04.12.01
Morocco
The King of Morocco presided over a working session devoted to the integrated development of the "Saharan provinces", in which a many ministers took part. The King reaffirmed the necessity of giving absolute priority to the question of employment and investment. Mohamed VI reiterated his determination to supervise personally the follow-up after drawing up the integrated development plan for the Saharan regions.

05.12.01
Sweden
On the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Kofi Annan and his forthcoming trip to Norway and Sweden, five Swedish NGOs sent him a letter of congratulations. They also used the opportunity to express their concerns about the delays in the peace process in Western Sahara and asked Kofi Annan to do as much as he can to bring about the referendum quickly and to abandon any idea of an alternative.

07.12.01
Moroccan-Spanish crisis
Spanish investments in Morocco decreased by 97% during the first semester in 2001 in relation to last year. According to Cinco Dias,
Spanish daily, the President of the Council, Aznar, is thought to have given the order in April to suspend financial transactions with Morocco temporarily, following the non-renewal by this country of the fishing agreements with the EU.

Quote of the week
Mohamed Aujjar, Moroccan Minister for Human Rights: "There are no political prisoners in Morocco; there are only prisoners for political reasons." (Al Asr, Moroccan daily quoted in the press review of the French Embassy in Rabat,  07.12.01)

SOLIDARITY

Resolución sobre el Sáhara, Confederación de Asociaciones Nacionales de Estudiantes de España sobre el Sahara Occidental, diciembre de 2001.

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