WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 08

17.-23.02.2002

HEADLINES

- Downing Street replies
- On Corell's legal opinion
- Security Council session
- Secretary General's report
- Spanish parliament
- Benaïssa in London
- 2nd Sahara marathon
- Occupied territories - vengeance and intimidation
- Brussels-meeting

14.01.02
Britain
Last November seven Labour Party youth officers from different regions of England and Wales questioned the prime minister, Tony Blair, in a letter about the conflict in Western Sahara and arms exports to Morocco. He replied recently saying the objective he shares is to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict. 'There is absolutely no suggestion that the UK is giving up its commitment to self-determination for the Saharawi people' and 'that any workable long-standing solution will have to provide for this right'. Concerning the government's policy on arms sales to Morocco, the government insists it is acting within the criteria of the EU Code of Conduct.

18.02.02
Concerning Corell's legal opinion
In a
letter to the Security Council, the Saharawi representative at the UN, Boukhari, analyses the opinion of the UN legal adviser Hans Corell. He welcomes the clarity of the paragraphs demonstrating that Morocco is not the administering power of the territory, clearly defined as "a non-self-governing territory on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the UN". He remarks however that the distinction between exploration, which would be in itself legal, and the exploitation of natural resources, which would be illegal, is completely artificial and in contradiction with the positions which the Security Council took in analogous situations in Angola, the Congo and Sierra Leone. In this context the Polisario Front considers that it is essential that the SC take measures to prevent the signed contracts being executed so long as the settlement process has not been completed in Western Sahara.

19.02.02
Security Council
The SC examined for three hours the legal opinion of Hans Corell. Three tendancies became apparent among the members of the SC : Russia, Colombia, Mauritius, Ireland, Singapore and Mexico insisted on the illegality of the oil agreements and pointed out their negative effect on the re-launch of the peace process. France, Guinea and Bulgaria minimised the bearing of the legal opinion. These countries recognise Morocco as the administering power of the territory and consider the exploration licences to be legal. The USA, China, Great Britain and Norway did not get involved in the argument, considering that the Council should concentrate primarily on seeking a political solution to the conflict. Even though no decision was taken, observers interpret the discussions as a warning to Morocco. A delegate of a member state of the Council declared: "The final conclusion was that the council wouldn't intrude in the oil dealings, but council members waved a red flag at Morocco.'' The legal opinion was distributed as an official document of the Council despite a protest from Morocco. (Document S/2002/161,
HTML / PDF )

19.02.02
Report of the UN Secretary General S/2002/178. (
HTML / PDF)
Relating the new facts which have happened since his last report of 10 January last, Kofi Annan quotes James Baker, his personal envoy, according to whom " Algeria and the Frente POLISARIO would be prepared to discuss or negotiate a division of the Territory as a political solution to the dispute over Western Sahara."
He then goes through the history of the negotiations of the past 10 years to note that, "We are currently faced with a rather bleak situation with regard to the future of the peace process in Western Sahara." The Secretary General says clearly that it is Morocco which "has expressed  unwillingness to go forward with the settlement plan".
He puts forward four options, which the Security Council must study during the coming two months:

  1. imposition by the UN of its settlement plan, without requiring the concurrence of both parties.. imposition of a Framework-agreement revised by James Baker.
  2. negotiation of a partition of the territory until 1 November 2002. In the absence of agreement, the proposal would be presented by the Security Council on a non-negotiable basis.
  3. Withdrawal of MINURSO.

Kofi Annan does not entertain the Algerian proposal of the territory becoming a trusteeship under the UN until a referendum. The Security Council will discuss the report on 26th and take a decision on 27 February.

Saharawi reactions
M'hamed Khaddad, coordinator with MINURSO: "The Polisario Front welcomes the fact that the United Nations has still kept on the table the option of the Settlement Plan as a way of solving the conflict, while indicating that the obstacle to its implementation has been the hostility of Morocco. The Polisario Front reaffirms its commitment to continue to cooperate with the Secretary General's Personal Envoy (...) to help bring a just and honorable solution to complete the decolonisation of Western Sahara."
In a letter (
french) to the President of the SC, Boukhari, the Saharawi representative with the UN takes up and develops this assessment.
For the Saharawi representative in the UK and Ireland, "the Saharawi people is resolutely determined to expend all the time needed to defend its right to self-determination..." On the subject of partition: "it has nevertheless the merit of recognising the right of the Saharawi people to independence. However it must be recalled that full and entire sovereignty over Western Sahara belongs to the Saharawi people alone; Morocco is only the occupying power ..." (
Statement )

Morocco
Morocco, through the voice of its ambassador to the UN, rejected the proposal for a possible negotiation over the partition of the territory, accusing Algeria of being the author of this proposal, which would allow it access to the Atlantic. Morocco prefers the Framework-Agreement proposal. The government also reaffirms, "strongly, its categorical rejection of any project or proposal aiming to attack its territorial integrity and its inalienable sovereignty over its southern provinces."
In the Moroccan press there is general mobilisation against the partition proposal, but two Spanish journalists, basing their information on UN sources, claim that Rabat would be ready to negotiate over this solution. (
El Periodico et La Razon, 22.02.02)

Algeria
Algeria, in a
letter sent to the President of the SC by its ambassador with the UN, takes a stand on the four options proposed by the Secretary  General. It gives priority to the option of the peace plan (1) and refuses Baker's Framework-Agreement (2). As for the third option, it says it would be "disposed to examine any proposal for a political solution which takes full account of the legitimate national interests of the Saharawi people."

Spain
The Spanish government, while reaffirming its constant position in favour of the peace plan and the referendum, reiterated its support for any solution having the agreement of the parties concerned.

France
"We are favourable in any case to pursuing James Baker's consultations with a view to reaching a negotiated solution acceptable to the parties." (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

19.02.02
Spain
The Spanish Parliament unanimously passed a resolution in favour of the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. It also asked Spain, which is EU president for six months, to involve itself more actively in reaching a solution "in keeping with UN principles". The initial proposal, presented by the parliamentary group "Peace for the Saharawi People", which draws together all the parties except the Popular Party, which is in power, went further than the text which was finally approved. It was last November when the associations of solidarity with the Saharawi people handed to the MPs this proposal with over 300,000 signatures.

19.02.02
England
On the eve of the official visit of the Moroccan minister of Foreign Affairs to Great Britain, the Polisario Front representative in London sent a statement to the British government, urging it to remind its guest of the need to respect the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people as agreed by international bodies. He also made it aware that arms purchases would serve to strengthen the Moroccan presence in the zone under military occupation.

19.02.02
Sahara Marathon
Over 500 athletes from 12 nations and about 200 Saharawi sports men and women will take part this year in the 2nd Sahara Marathon, scheduled for 25 February. The races include the marathon (42,195 km), the half-marathon and runs of 10 and 5 km between the camps of Smara and El Ayoun. The technical committee chaired by Germany arrived on the ground on 19.02 to finalise the preparations.

21.02.02
Occupied territories - vengeance and intimidation
The president of the Sahara branch of the Forum for Truth and Justice,  Moutik Elhoussine, was made redundant on 21 February with immediate effect by the company Sepomer Sahara.  Administrative Director and Head of the Accounting service, he had been demoted last year to the rank of chief accountant following his participation in the committee for the liberation of Mohamed Daddach. His redundancy is in relation to his taking part a few days ago in hearings with the delegation from the European Parliament in El Ayoun. Another member of the branch, Noumria Brahim, had her monthly salary withheld for the same reasons.

21.02.02
Referendum - Spain
A delegation of NGOs, led by Pierre Galand, President of the National Centre for Cooperation and Development and of the Coordination of European committees of support to the Saharawi people, EUCOCO, went to the Spanish Embassy and met the Minister Counselor. The delegation handed him a letter addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Josep Piqué, calling Spain to take a lead in organising without delay a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. Spain is still, in terms of international conventions, the power responsible for bringing to an end the process of decolonisation in Western Sahara. (
Statement french)

 

SOLIDARITY

Mujeres Artistas Vascas en solidaridad con las mujeres saharauis
Exposición artística en Irun
KABIGORRI BIDASOALDEKO ATENEOA, (Sarjia Kalea 1)
Entre los días 13 de febrero y 4 de marzo de 2.002
De 18.30 horas a cierre, Lunes cerrado
El objetivo: recaudar fondos para la Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis, UNMS
Org: Asociación de Amigas y Amigos de la República Árabe Saharaui Democrática, en colaboración con KABIGORRI, EMAKUNDE y Mujeres Artistas Vascas.

COMING UP...

27 février 2002

Demonstration in London, Wednesday 27th February, 12.30 - 1.30
Spanish Embassy, 39 Chesham Place, London SW1
Meet in Belgrave Square 12 noon - 12.15. Nearest tube station : Hyde Park Corner
Org.: Western Sahara Campaign UK.
wsc@gn.apc.org

Bruxelles: manifestation devant l'ambassade d'Espagne à 12h (en marge de la grande manifestation pour la Palestine).

Genève, Suisse: 26ème anniversaire de la RASD, réception organisée par le Comité suisse de soutien au peuple sahraoui, dès 19 h., Forum, Hôtel Le Grenil, 9, avenue Ste Clotilde, 1205 Genève-Jonction

29-31.03.02 : 4ème Congrès de l'Union nationale des femmes sahraouies,UNFS. Infos: dgmae@wissal.dz

Charter:

Vuelo charter Catalunyia: Barcelona - Tindouf

aller: 21 hores del 27.03.02, départ 00 h - retour: 18 hores del 01.04.02
Org.: ACAPS-CATALUNYA, secció Vilanova i la Geltrú, e-mail:
afont@pie.xtec.es

Charter Italiano per il IV Congresso dell'Unione Nazionale Donne Saharawi (UNMS) 29 al 31 marzo

Rome - Tindouf
Partenza da Roma Fiumicino per Algeri: 28.03.02, ore 12.20
Partenza da Algeri per Tindouf: 29.03.02, ore 7.00
Tindouf-Roma
Partenza da Tindouf per Algeri: 03.04.02, ore 13.15
Partenza da Algeri per Roma: 04.04.02, ore 9.45
Prix: vol aller retour, 2 nuits à l'hôtel**** à Alger, taxes, transferts etc: 773 euro (supplément chambre seule 120 euro), contact: Maria Grazia Passuello 06/67662355 vpresvic@provincia.roma.it
Elena Casini 335 6913221 mailto:
casiele@tin.it
Associazione nazionale di solidarieta con il popolo sahrawi

Vuelo charter Vasco

Bilbao - Tindouf: 27.03- 01.04.02
Contacto:
tlpgahij@vc.ehu.es

Vuelo charter "Aragón con el Sáhara"

27.03.- 31.03.02
Información: Teléfonos: 609365038 Rafa, 676319199 Merche, 976284204 Sede, por las tardes. e-mail:
umdraiga@umdraiga.com

Prayer Trip from USA

28.03 -01.04.02 (Easter weekend)Contact: US-Western Sahara Foundation, Carlos Wilson csahrawi@aol.com, Suzanne Scholte skswm@aol.com;  Dr. Dan Stanley, Manna Church dstanley@mannachurch.com.

Vuelo charter Madrid - Tindouf

27, 28, 29, 30 y 31 de marzo de 2002.
Org: Delegación saharaui en la Comunidad de Madrid y Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Madrid. Infos:
saharamad@congde.org

INTERNET

Sluguilla Lawash, an open air site with rock art in the Western Sahara Narcís Soler Masferrer, Jordi Ungé Plaja, Joan Escolà Pujol, Carles Serra Salamé, The University of Girona , Department of Geography, History and History of Art, Faculty of Letters.

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