The head of the Libyan state, Colonel Khadafi, offered his good services to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, transmitting to the Polisario Front Moroccan proposals. On 3 June, the Saharawi Minister for Foreign Affairs sent to his Libyan counterpart in Tripoli SADR's response. Ould Salek declared that « the Polisario Front welcomes with open arms any initiative capable of encouraging the implementation of the UN-OAU Peace Plan in force in Western Sahara », but emphasised that any action outside this context would be doomed to failure. On 10.06 Morocco rejected the Libyan attempt as « unrealistic ».
According the Quotidien d'Oran, Colonel Khadafi is alleged to have tried to convince the Polisario Front in a letter to accept a « negotiated solution » with the Moroccan side, which could lead to a new proposal. This solution, according to the diplomatic sources quoted, would involve « secret negotiations » between Saharawi and Moroccan delegations in Surt, under the auspices of the Libyan colonel. Tripoli wanted to present its plan during the coming Maghreb Union summit in Algiers.
The publication by Moroccan weekly Demain Magazine (01.06) of substantial extracts from a report on the human rights situation in Western Sahara, attributed to the Sahara Section of the Forum of Truth and Justice, set off a controversy in the Moroccan media. This report, given to the ad hoc committee of the European Parliament during its visit to El Ayoun on 12 February 2002, gives a detailed account of human rights abuses in the territories occupied by Morocco.
The weekly concentrated its critique on the notion of genocide towards Saharawis, which figures in one sentence in the introduction. The national president of the Forum denied the origin of the report and suggested there were disagreements within the Sahara section of the Forum. The dissolution of the executive of the Sahara section could even be envisaged. It should be noted that since last October the Sahara section had been ordered to « freeze » its international activities. 39 delegates from the Sahara section are participating in the national congress of the Forum taking place in Casablanca from 14-16 June.
The incriminated report has been published in a slightly modified form by the « Saharawi defenders of human rights ». (french or spanish)
The President of the Mauritanian Republic gave an audience to the UN special representative for Western Sahara, Mr William Swing, who indicated that his visit was a regular one for exchange of views on questions relating to Western Sahara.
peace in Western Sahara
Three Swiss NGOs, the Swiss Committee of Support for the Saharawi People, the Schweizerisches Unterstützungskomitee für die Sahrauis and ARSO, have sent a manifesto to the Spanish Government which asks Spain « to persevere in its present attitude of firm support for self-determination and to ask the United Nations to take sovereign charge of the territory to administer it until the holding of a referendum of self-determination. » The manifesto will also be sent to the Security Council after collecting signatures. (Manifesto)
The European Parliament adopted by 446 votes in favour, 10 votes against and 54 abstentions, the resolution presented by Philippe Morillon (French Conservative) and Daniel Marc Cohn-Bendit (French Green) on the implementation of a « privileged partnership » between the European Union and the Union of the Arab Maghreb. This resolution spells out that it is the duty of the European Union, in cooperation with the UN, and through dialogue and mediation, to assist the resolution of conflicts and the establishment of a peaceful climate in the region, in the interest of all the peoples concerned, and in particular the Saharawi people. In this precise case, the MEPs hope that the different options on the question of the Sahara presented in the last UN report and other possible proposals should be negotiated directly between the parties concerned. The resolution has kept the Canary Islands' MEP, Isidoro Sanchez's proposal to create structures for dialogue and study on a regional level, within the Euro-mediterranean interparliamentary Forum, in the form of regular working groups, dedicated for example to the question of Western Sahara or immigration. In a statement, European United Left/Nordic Green Left group (GUE/NGL) pointed out that the resolution does not recognise the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination nor the Houston Agreement, and that it supports the Baker plan for autonomy. Marianne Eriksson MEP wonders if the present negotiations on a fishing agreement between the EU and Morocco have not influenced the resolution. For her part, Yasmine Boudjenah, MEP, who abstained, « noted that the European Parliament had taken a step backwards on the question of Western Sahara ».
TGS-NOPEC confirmed its participation, in a press statement, in seismic surveys of the zones offshore from Dakhla and Boujdour in Western Sahara. TG-NOPEC's boat Northern Access will begin this month its collection of seismic data. The Norwegian company maintains that, the UN legal opinion of January this year, allows that the oil contracts signed by Morocco are legal, since they concern only exploration and not exploitation, but apologises for using the term « Southern provinces ».
The Norwegian committee of support for the Saharawi people organised a demonstration on the occasion of the annual meeting of shareholders of the company, among which important public institutions figure such as the insurance company «Norwegian Public National Insurance Scheme Fund». An « Open Letter to TGS-NOPEC shareholders » was sent, protesting strongly against the agreement signed by the Norwegian firm with ONAREP, Kerr McGee and TotalFinaElf (see week 23/02). The Committee believes this agreement legitimises the Moroccan occupation, since the seismic surveys are a precondition of the exploitation of any oil reserves. The Committee, supported by several Norwegian parliamentaries and organisations, therefore asks TGS-NOPEC to give up its involvement in Western Sahara, which is violating international law. (Open letter , Afrol News).
Youth organisations from Moroccan parties, invited to take part in a meeting in Paris by the Moroccan Democrat Youth Abroad and the Union of Young People from Saguiet el Hamra and Rio de Oro, asked to postpone the meeting to allow more time for preparation. This meeting, planned for 15 June, had as its aim « to use peaceful ways to get out of the deadlock and to talk calmly, and to become actors and not just spectators in what is happening in the region. » The meeting was held symbolically to allow the Moroccan organisations to make arrangements and fix as soon as possible a later date for a wider debate.
About a hundred young Saharawis recruited into primary teaching between the end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001, and who were placed in Moroccan towns, started an unlimited strike 10 days ago. They travelled to Rabat and are organising a sit-in in front of the office of the Ministry of Education. Their claims: 1 - To return to work in towns of Western Sahara and in the towns of Southern Morocco, Goulmin, Tan Tan and Assa. 2 - The graduates with a bachelor's or master's degree demand to be able to teach in secondary schools and colleges like their Moroccan peers, who with the same degree do not work in primary education. (corr.)
The King of Morocco will not go to the « summit » of the Union of the Arab Maghreb scheduled for 21 and 22 June in Algiers.
Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Parliament
A resolution about Western Sahara, put down by 39 members of parliament, was passed by the Committee. Following a previous one on 9 March 2000 (see week 11/00), it asks the government (1) to support the efforts of the United Nations in order to achieve the organisation of a referendum and a solution accepted by the parties, in accordance with international law; (2) to observe the respect of human rights in the occupied territories; (3) to increase humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugees and (4) to demand that the parties release the prisoners of war according to the peace plan.
Pierre Ryter will be replaced by Harald Schmid of Gruneck to head the Regional Delegation of the ICRC for the Maghreb and Tunis.
Haddi Ahmed Mahmoud, a common law prisoner, who took part in the hunger strike last January in El Ayoun prison, decided to start an unlimited hunger strike to protest again about the conditions of detention there. (corr.)
We have been told about the compulsory professional redundancy in Morocco of Saharawi human rights activists. (to be continued)
Saharawi unemployed graduates, who met for a sit-in in protest outside their houses were forced by the police to go inside.
An exhibition entitled « Fotoudstilling om Afrikas sidste Koloni » (Photo exhibition about Africa's last colony) was opened at Blågårds Bibliotek in Copenhagen (Denmark) on 3rd June, 2002. For more information, contact the Representation of Frente POLISARIO to Denmark at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unas 250 personas se manifestaron por las principales calles de Bilbao para reclamar un referéndum de autodeterminación para el Sáhara. A la marcha, organizada por la Asociación de Amigos de la República arabe saharaui democrática, se sumaron representantes de todos los sindicatos vascos, la presidenta de EA, Begoña Errazti, así como miembros de PNV, Eusko Alkartasuna y PSE-EE del intergrupo parlamentario por el Sahara.
Scottish Trade Union Western Sahara Support Group Following discussions which took place at the Scottish Trade Union Congress in April, a group of Trade Unions met in Glasgow (Scotland) and agreed to establish a committee in support of the people of Western Sahara. The main objective of the group is initially to raise the awareness of Scottish Trade Unionists of the plight of the people of Western Sahara and its workers.
The Moroccan government will transfer itself in its entirety to El Ayoun, where it will attend the opening of study days planned prior to the launch of the Sahara Development Agency.
Si terrà l'11 luglio 2002 alle ore 20:00, presso il Circolo Arci Salone Rinascita di Sesto Fiorentino (via Matteotti) una cena di solidarietà con il Popolo Saharawi, che sarà anche l'occasione per dare il benvenuto ai bambini saharawi ospiti per l'estate 2002. Per partecipare alla cena, (organizzata dall'Associazione « Ban Slout Larbi », dagli Scout di Sesto Fiorentino, dal Circolo Arci Salone Rinascita e dall'Associazionismo Sestese) è possibile chiamare Chiara, 328 6840815 oppure l'Associazionismo 055 4201300.
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