WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 09

24.02.- 02.03.2002

TITLES

- Prisoners of war
- Sahara marathon
- Peace plan - Algeria
- Security Council
- 27 February: celebrations and visit of Bouteflika
- News in brief

21.02.02
Prisoners of war
A delegation from the ICRC was in Morocco from 3 to 14 February visiting the families of 396 Moroccan prisoners of war in the hands of the Polisario Front. On this occasion the ICRC reiterated its appeal for all the prisoners still in captivity to be liberated. (
Press release )

25.02.02
Second Sahara Marathon
The start at the wilaya of Smara was given by the Prime Minister accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Sport and regional authorities. Over 500 athletes of 12 nationalities started the race. "We want through sport to uphold the legitimate rights of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence and ensure the complete success of this race which will happen every year", declared the German, Fingernagel, international coordinator of the Marathon. The main race was won by the Italian Vicenzo Castellano, 42 in 3 hours and 13 minutes, while his wife, Rosa Maria Manari, came first among the women. A student from the University of St Jacques de Compostella, Miguel Abel Sauto, 32 won the half-marathon in 1 hour 30 minutes. His compatriot from the same University, Angeles Dopazo Martinez won the women's half-marathon in 1 hour 48 minutes. The winners of the 10 km were an Algerian student, Tergui Mohamed and the Italian Anna Maria  Coreggiari. (SPS)

25.02.02
Peace Plan - Algeria
The Algerian government, responding the the Moroccan government's statement which rejected categorically any proposal for partition in the Sahara, notes "with regret" Morocco's accusations towards it. It describes the Moroccan position as a "new attempt to deceive public opinion in the Maghreb, in Africa and internationally on the real basis of the conflict". For Algeria, Morocco is trying to change it, as it has done for the past 20 years, from a problem of decolonisation into a difference of opinion between Algeria and Morocco. Morocco is responsible for blocking the referendum of self-determination, it refuses even to discuss the implementation of the Houston Agreements, it lacks the political will necessary to accept the referendum and its results, or to negotiate a political solution which would be acceptable to both parties, Morocco and the Polisario Front. Algeria for its part, defends the right of peoples to self-determination and it is convinced that this right will triumph in Western Sahara. (communiqué
engl)

26-27.02.02
Security Council- Resolution
S 1394 (2002) - PDF
The Security Council devoted two sessions to the examination of the Secretary General's report. In a press statement on 26.02.02, the President declared that the Council was concerned about the humanitarian aspects of the conflict, in particular the prisoners of war, and asked the Polisario Front to liberate them. He exhorted the two parties to avoid any action which could poison the situation as well as allowing MINURSO the greatest freedom of movement. During the speech of the Personal Envoy, James Baker, important questions were raised such as the viability of the Saharawi state, the repercussions of its creation on regional stability, the imposition of a solution without the consent of the parties, the risks engendered by the status quo for peace in the region and the credibility of the Council, as well as the viability of the options proposed by the SG.
The Security Council finally adopted unanimously, resolution 1394 (2002) in which it decided to "extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2002, to study actively the different options described in the Secretary General's report and to examine this question in the context of its program of work", which will begin by a meeting of experts from 15 member countries of the Council starting next week.
According to the Madrid daily ABC of the 28th, the Council set aside option 4 (withdrawal of MINURSO) and rather took account of the voices in favour of the referendum (the majority),  of autonomy (the preferred option for France) or the partition of the territory, a new proposal in a totally blocked situation.

27 February 2002 - 26th anniversary of SADR

Festivities and visit of Bouteflika to the camps
The celebrations of the 26th anniversary of SADR took place in the wilaya of Smara. They were marked by the surprise presence of the Algerian President, accompanied by a delegation comprising the Minister of the Moudjahidines and two presidential counselors. Mr Bouteflika, warmly welcomed by the population, was received by President Mohamed Abdelaziz at the entrance to the wilaya. The two heads of state reviewed a detachment of the Saharawi Army of Liberation and had one-to-one talks. The Algerian President also met Saharawi civil and military authorities, and afterwards visited the centre of the Saharawi Red Crescent, the family of the martyr Abdi Ould Mohamed, before inspecting a specialised centre for rehabilitation of handicapped children. The Algerian head of state then went to the MINURSO office near Tindouf.

27.02.02
Interview of the Saharawi president in the Madrid daily ABC, see
English version.

28.02.02
Algeria-SADR
After his visit, the Algerian President gave another speech to the civil and military authorities of SADR, to thank them for their welcome and to recall that, "as in the past we have been confident about the results of our war of liberation and of the inevitable triumph of just causes throughout the world, so we are confident today that the struggle of our brothers, the Saharawi people will lead to victory." (...). "Also Algeria, the president, the government, and the people, reiterates its support for your just cause and assures you of its total support for a just and lasting solution which will guarantee the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, free of any political, military or administrative constraint." (SPS) (
APS engl.)

NEWS IN BRIEF

25.02.02: United Kingdom, Parliament: Several MPs put questions to the minister responsible for the issue of Western Sahara, who reaffirmed the British position of support for James Baker in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict.

25.02.02: Morocco: Calpers, the largest investment fund in the world, announced that in virtue of the introduction of new criteria for investing in emerging markets, such as respect for human rights, political risk, transparency, justice etc, Morocco had been excluded from the list of countries eligible under the new criteria.

25.02.02: Morocco: The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs announced the participation of his country in the Euromed Conference in Valencia.

25.02.02: Spain: The parliament of the autonomous region of Navarre approves a new declaration in favour of a referendum in Western Sahara.

26.02.02: Austria: The United Nations should find "a peaceful solution" to the problem in Western Sahara which has lasted too long, the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs  Ferrero-Waldner, said on a visit to Algiers. She indicated that the Union of the Arab Maghreb could also pay more attention to this question. (SPS)

In an interview during her visit to Morocco, the Minister declared that the Framework-Agreement "should be studied more closely" and that after 11 years of trying to organise the referendum, "it would be good to move on to another stage". (agencies)

27.02.02: Occupied Territories: Mohamed Daddach went to Smara last week with some friends .  The group was checked by the police on the way and followed by several police cars. As before in Goulimine and Boujdour, the authorities forbad the Saharawi population to meet him. Several people having braved this ban were the subject of reprisals (redundancy, non-payment of their salary, etc) or are believed to have been arrested.

27.02.02: Morocco: According to a news dispatch from the Reuters correspondent in Rabat, quoting a Western diplomatic source, the King of Morocco will visit the towns of El Ayoun and Dakhla in the course of the coming week, in order to reaffirm Moroccan sovereignty on Western Sahara and the refusal of any partition.

27.02.02, India, The Association of Indian Africanists organised in New Delhi a Seminar on "UN peace plan in Western Sahara: Problems and Prospects" followed by a dinner. More than 200 very important people of India and abroad participated in the conference. On this occasion a book entitled "Western Sahara: an affirmation of Solidarity" by Dr. Uma Shankar Jha President Association of Indian Africanist, was released.(Press Release and Resolution of the Seminar)

28.02.02, Saragossa, Aragon: the municipality unanimously approved a motion in favour of the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people and decided on a close collaboration with the refugee camps.

SOLIDARITY

Several actions in favour of the referendum, organised by the European movement of solidarity: on 26 in Gothenburg (Sweden), demonstration outside the Moroccan consulate, on 27 in London and Brussels, demonstrations in front of Spanish embassies, and on 2 March in Paris, a demonstration at the Trocodero. A delegation of the European Coordination of support for the Saharawi people was received at the French Embassy in Brussels.

On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of SADR, many commemorations took place, among them:

The European Parliamentary Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People" sent a message in which Margot Kessler congratulates the Saharawi people and their president and reaffirms to them "the loyal and steadfast support of our intergroup".

Geneva: reception in the presence of several ambassadors and of the Executive of the African Union, and several officers from international bodies and NGOs.

Valencia, autonomous community: Reception and showing of a documentary.

Saragossa, Aragon: 6th cultural week at the Maison des Cultures (exhibition, showing of a film, talk by Ali Mokhtar, PF representative for the region, on the current state of play).

Alicante, Andalousia: evening of solidarity on 3 March with videos, exhibitions, concert, debate on human rights abuses in Western Sahara.

COMING UP

28.02.02, Madrid: La exposición de las imágenes en blanco/negro y color que conforman el libro «Mañana en el Sáhara» será presentada en la PhotoGalería de La Fabrica en Madrid. (Mañana en el Sáhara, Editorial Mortirolo, S.L.Colección Claroscuro, Fotografías Holok / Juanma Gil Señorón, Simoes, Textos Juan Andrés Gómez de Agüero, Versión inglesa Robert Strange). mortirolo@mortirolo.com / http://www.mortirolo.com

19.03.02, Le Mans France : Grand concert de l'amitié entre les peuples. (Mariem Hassan, Nayim Alal, groupe Leyoad (Sahara Occidental) Thierry Robin (France), Mustafa et Driss, Los Hermanos El Hafer (Maroc), Kadda Cherif Hadria (Algérie), Palais des Congrès et de la Culture. (bur.aarasd@wanadoo.fr)

29, 30 et 31.03.02, Congress of the NUSW
Saharawi women for peace, progress and freedom.
29, 30 and 31 March 2002, the IVth Congress of the National Union of Saharawi Women will take place in the camps.
As well as evaluating the program of work since the last congress and the outlook for the future, the IVth Congress will discuss, among others, the following points:
- Learning from experience in elections, and developing the role of the women's organisation in these important areas for initiating and consolidating democracy.
- Defining an economic strategy in which women could play a key role, especially in self-sufficiency. Cooperatives provide a good model. Info:
Polisario.Swiss@bluewin.ch

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