WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 12

17.-23.03.2002

SADR

18-19.03.02: An Italian parliamentary delegation, led by Mr Gustavo Selva (National Alliance), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, was in the Saharawi refugee camps on an information gathering visit. Gustavo Selva denied categorically "the allegations" that were attributed to him by the official Moroccan press agency, MAP, according to which he was said to have compared the Saharawi refugee camps to Nazi concentration camps. (SPS French - Spanish)

21.03.02: Saharawi delegation in Finland, Sweden and Norway
A Saharawi delegation led by Mohamed Sidati, Minister delegate for Europe, was received in Helsinki by the Minister of Development and by parliamentarians from the committees of foreign affairs and human rights. In Sweden the delegation had talks with representatives of different political groups, and was received by the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the parliament.
SADR Minister Sidati visited also Norway, accompanied by Mr. Yahiaoui Lamine, Front Polisario representative to the Nordic countries. During their stay in Oslo, Sidati and Lamine had meetings with deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vidar Helgesen, other officials of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a number of Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, as well as several NGOs and the press.(more in the
Press release of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

01.02.02: From 1 February 2002 Morocco has opened the border between Western Sahara and Mauritania and set up a customs post at El Guerguarat, 50 km north of La Guera.  Until now European travelers, the only ones allowed to pass through, have traveled in convoys on Tuesdays and Fridays from Dakhla, with a permit of passage. The road is asphalted up to the Moroccan border post, from there to Nouadhibou there is only a single track road. According to Jeune Afrique of 25.02 announcing the completion of the trans-Saharan highway from Tangiers to Dakar for 2004: "Morocco is financing 14 km of road linking the two sides of the border." But Kofi Annan according to his report of April 2001, had stopped the preparations for the construction work of the metalled road which was to go across 5 km of the buffer zone.  Despite this intervention, the works started in mid-May, they were then halted at the end of May after another intervention by MINURSO, confirmed in the Secretary General's report of last February.

17.03.02: Three cars became targets for the Moroccan army in the region of Guelta Zemmour, near the defensive wall. One Saharawi, Mohammed Salem Othmane Souieh, was killed and others were wounded. It was only on the 19th that the body of the deceased was returned to his family to be buried in El Ayoun amid a large crowd. (Saharawi Ministry of Information - Radio Reports)

21.03.02: The Moroccan Government's development plan for Western Sahara provides for the extension of the port of El Ayoun, the promotion of small scale fishing (creation of 6,000 jobs for young people, provision of 1,000 modern small craft), the development of agriculture, road construction and the improvement of the supply of drinking water. (Libération-Maroc)

REFERENDUM

13.03.02: European Parliamentary Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People"
The latest meeting took place in the presence of Catherine Lalumière, leader of the European Parliament's ad hoc delegation for Western Sahara. Mrs Lalumière declared that the problem of Western Sahara is a humanitarian problem and that aid to the Saharawi refugees should be increased. In her opinion only a modified "third way" could bring about a political solution. Members of the Intergroup expressed their disagreement and stressed that only the respect of international law could provide a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.

15.03.02: The Algerian Minister of the Interior on an impromptu visit to Morocco (Reuters: Algeria, Morocco in talks to calm W. Sahara tensions)

16.03.02: Algerian President says Algeria has no ambition in Western Sahara or Morocco. (Algerian radio, Algiers, BBC Monitoring Service)

19.03.02: European Parliament
The MEP Isidoro Sanchez suggests to the EP the creation of working groups on the Sahara and on migration during a discussion on the draft report concerning relations between the EU and the UMA (Union of the Arab Maghreb).

22.03.02: 107th Interparliamentary Union conference (17-23 March, Marrakech)
Three parliamentary delegations from Sweden, Cuba and Greece expressed themselves in favour of the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people in conformity with international law. (APS)

MOROCCO - SPAIN

22.03.02: Following pressure by the Moroccan government Madrid is envisaging banning the referendums to be organised in various autonomous regions of Spain. (La Razon)

HUMAN RIGHTS

- 13.03.02: In Casablanca Saharawi students organised a sit-in in front of the adminstrative offices of the district of Ain Chegue in Casablanca (SPS).

- 16.03.02: In Taroudant (Morocco), Saharawi teachers deported to Morocco demand to be returned to their country. (SPS)

- In Smara, high school students organised an exhibition and an arts festival to "safeguard Saharawi culture and heritage".(SPS)

16.03.02, Geneva: The General Meeting of BERDHSO, the European Bureau for the respect of human rights in Western Sahara, was held in the presence of delegates from several European countries and Saharawi human rights defenders from the camps and the occupied territories. It was agreed to change the name of the organisation to the International Bureau for the respect of Human Rights in Western Sahara. (communiqué French)

18.03.02-26.04.02, Geneva, 58th session of the UN Commission of Human Rights
Under point 5, right to self-determination the following spoke:

Mme Rosa Ana Alija (Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos) who noted that among other rights abuses of the Saharawi people, the Moroccan kingdom had done deals with foreign businesses for mining in Western Sahara. It is necessary to watch that the local population is not denied their legitimate right to benefit from their resources.
The ambassador of Algeria with the UN, Mohamed-Salah Dembri, opposed the proposal of internal autonomy, which aims to "invest in the occupying power the powers of an administering power delegating a part of them to the inhabitants of the territory, in this case, the Saharawis."  Such a proposal goes against the mandate vouchsafed to the United Nations Secretary General and to his Personal Envoy, he explained. The UN body abuses the terms of reference of its mandate which concerned the implementation of the peace plan and not the modification of it.
Mohamed Cheikh M'Hamed (International Movement of youth and students for the United Nations) declared himself deeply concerned by the situation in Western Sahara. He recalled that this question should constitute a priority for the United Nations as the Saharawi people were still waiting to be able to exercise their right to self-determination. He retraced the development of the situation and regretted that the United Nations envisages abandoning the question before a referendum can be organised. He asked the Commission to continue to act in such a way that this referendum takes place and to set up a mechanism to force Morocco to hold to its commitments which it has signed up to. In conclusion, he recommended the United Nations to continue to allocate the necessary resources and to work for a peaceful solution to the situation.

PRESS

"Each party (Morocco, Algeria and the Polisario Front) has reasons not to precipitate a way out of the crisis" writes the Moroccan weekly,  Tel Quel in an article entitled "And if the status quo suited everyone ?". (AFP 16.03.02 French)

The publication of «Post-scriptum: Une solution élégante au problème sahraoui» ("Post-script: An elegant solution to the Saharawi problem") by Fouad Laroui in Jeune Afrique / L'intelligent of 20.03.02 provoked reactions. Responding to a reader's letter, the director  Béchir Ben Yahmed writes: "Before even receiving your reaction to the text of F. Laroui, which should not have appeared in that form, we had reacted ourselves to the author and to the editor in chief who received and accepted the copy. (...)"

CULTURE

Las huellas culturales de un pueblo nómada, Una exposición recrea en Valladolid la vida en el Sáhara Occidental a través de manuscritos, objetos y mapas, Texto de María Aurora Viloria, El Norte de castilla, Valladolid, 17.03.02.

SOLIDARITY

Algeria, 19-25.03.02: National week of solidarity with the Saharawi people
During the opening ceremony in Algiers, Mr Abdelkader Messahel, Minister delegate for African Affairs with the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced: "There is no fair way for the Saharawi people except self-determination".(
APS)
Speech of the Saharawi Ambassador in Algiers, French:
SPS.
18-20.03.02: Meetings of solidarity with the Saharawi people took place in Mostaganem, Ouargla and Constantine where, on the 19th the Saharawi delegation took part in festivities marking the celebration of the day of victory (commemorating the signing of the Evian Agreement).(
SPS)

Scandinavia
09.03.02:
Statement from the Nordic conference " A peoples right to their country - Western Sahara" Stockholm, hosted by The Committee for Western Sahara Women in Stockholm Sweden.

COMING UP...

Netherlands
24 - 27 March 2002: Visit of Mr. M'hamed Khadad the Saharawi Coordinator with UN to The Netherlands (Leiden, The Hague, Utrecht, Amsterdam) Info:
ubbibachir@yahoo.com.

Andalucia
Vuelo charter, 26 de ABRIL - 2 de MAYO de 2002. Contacto: fax: 954-275240. tel: 954-275197

INTERNET

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