- OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
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Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of SADR, as guest of honour at the 12th Houari Boumediene colloquium, presided in Batna at the inaugural ceremony of the wilaya committee of solidarity with the Saharawi people in the presence of Mohamed Mahrez Lamraoui, President of the National Committee of Solidarity with SADR, Mrs Anissa Boumedienne, and the head of the Saharawi diplomatic service and the Saharawi Minister of Defense. (APS)
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malawi, Lilian Patel, on an official visit to Morocco, declared that her country had decided to withdraw recognition of SADR after signing agreements with Morocco, the Moroccan press agency (MAP) reported. (AFP)
Ali Salem Tamek
The Saharawi political detainee has been observing an unlimited hunger strike since Monday 23 December 2002. In a statement, he recalls the promises which were made to him by the prison management, as well as his claims:
- to get an individual cell, with satisfactory sanitary conditions;
- to be authorised to receive daily visits;
- to be authorised to receive visitors in premises not shared with visitors of prisoners in common law;
- to be treated as a political detainee.
Tamek decided on this hunger strike despite his failing health to draw attention to his claims. He lays the responsibility for any possible consequences of this action on the Moroccan authorities and says he has other actions in mind. He calls for solidarity and the intervention of all human rights organisations to demand his release and the liberation of all political detainees and for the support of his claims. (corr.)
From the 14 January James Baker will be on trip in the region to discuss with the parties new proposals for a solution to the conflict. The MINURSO mandate expires on 31 January (Frankfurter Allgemeine)
The Spanish ambassador to the UN ( ) declared on Tele Cinco that the UN was occupied by the Iraqi crisis for the moment ( ) and that the international situation was leaning towards an extension of the mandate of MINURSO. (AL-ALAM, press review of the French Embassy in Rabat).
The position of the Spanish government "has not changed and will not change", affirmed Mrs Anna Palacio, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs in an interview published by the Madrid daily, El Mundo. "What Spain has always repeated, is that the solution of the conflict of Western Sahara should be taken on board by the UN and should respect all interests and particularly the interests of the Saharawis", Mrs Palacio emphasised. "Within the Security Council we will continue to work towards finding this solution, the minister made clear, whose country will have a seat from January 2003 on the highest UN body.
Morocco hopes that Spain, which will be a member of the UN Security Council from 1 January 2003, will contribute to a "definitive solution" of the conflict of Western Sahara, said Taïeb Fassi-Fihri, the Moroccan deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, in an interview with the Arab language newspaper, Asharq Al Awsat. "We hope that the whole of the Spanish political forces and above all the government (...) will contribute towards finding a definitive solution to this affair. (...) We hope that Spain will take a neutral, dynamic and positive position in the direction of a speedy settlement of the problem which has lasted so long", the minister added. Morocco is "ready to accept a situation where various prerogatives would be delegated to the inhabitants of the Southern Provinces [Western Sahara]", Mr Fassi-Fihri recalled, alluding to the proposal of James Baker. (agencies)
Saharawi territorial waters
64 fishing boats from Galicia, Cantabria and the Asturias are authorised from 15 January, to operate in Moroccan territorial waters [in fact Saharawi territorial waters]. This is stipulated in an agreement signed in Rabat, between the Spanish and Moroccan ministers of fishing. The meeting between the two ministers followed a decision of the King of Morocco authorising access, in exceptional circumstances, to the "Moroccan" exclusive economic zone for Spanish fishermen affected by the disaster of the oil tanker "Prestige".
Khadija Rouissi, General secretary of the Forum for Truth and Justice and Abdelillah Benabdeslam, an officer of AMDH and the Committee for Follow-up decided to start an unlimited hunger strike on 28 December 2002, in the office of the weekly paper Le Journal Hebdomadaire, to demand elucidation of the fate of the disappeared. The two strikers have the active support of the Committee of Follow-up, made up of Moroccan human rights organisations including the AMDH, the OMDH, and the FMVJ. They are asking in particular for the immediate release of three political disappeared persons who went missing in 2002: El Meski Abdellah, abducted on 15 July 2002, Aziz Chahyar, missing since 4 November 2002 and Katoubi Lakbir, from 20 September 2002. On 27 December it was learnt that two of the three disappeared had been freed.
About twenty Saharawis from the Association of Saharawi emigrants of Castilla-la Mancha will soon travel to Galicia to take part in the work of cleaning the coast polluted by the oil off the Prestige. Two buses, chartered by the Association of Support with the Saharawi people, will leave from Andalusia for the same purpose.
The next meeting of the Maghreb ministers of Foreign Affairs will be held on 3 January in Algiers. The summit of the Arab Maghreb Union, due to be held on 21 June 2002 in Algiers, was cancelled in extreme circumstances and postponed indefinitely.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
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