WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 21

18.-24.05.2003

 

SADR

20.05.1973 - 20.05.2003
30th anniversary of the POLISARIO Front
The festivities marking the 30th anniversary of the start of the armed struggle in Western Sahara under the leadership of the Polisario Front took place in the wilaya of Ausserd, presided over by the Head of State and in the presence of several thousand participants and foreign guests. The Algerian delegation was large with about a hundred people, parliamentarians, journalists, and representatives of civil society. Diplomats (from Angola, Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Syria, Cuba), representatives of Palestinian organisations, as well as NGOs from Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain, Austria, Greece and Sweden. A big march past of military and paramilitary contingents, school children and the general population, who "bear witness to the organisation of our people and our determination to fight until we achieve independence", according to the President of the Saharawi Parliament, Salem Lebsir.

"Any solution which does not respect the will of the Saharawi people will be rejected", said Prime Minister Beyoun, adding that "this year's celebration of 20 May should be a message of the Saharawi people determined to defend their inalienable right to self-determination and independence."

In his speech, Mohamed Abdelaziz reiterated the attachment of the Saharawi people to the recovery of their "legitimate national rights". He stressed the willingness of the Saharawi party to work with the United Nations, historically responsible for the successful conclusion of the decolonisation process. He pointed out that any settlement solution should respect "the will of the Saharawi people" and their legitimate rights. Mohamed Abdelaziz called, once again, the Moroccan government to a "real and responsible dialogue". In a press conference, the head of the Saharawi state revealed his response to James Baker's latest proposal, explaining that the only "concession of any size", which could be made concerns the question of the voters in the referendum. The Polisario is asking that the work should be carried out by the UN identification commission on the examination of the appeals put forward by Rabat. "The UN will decide who will be an elector and we will respect its decision", Mr Abdelaziz declared, insisting that the referendum should be held "as quickly as possible".

M'hamed Khaddad, responsible for relations with the UN: "We say to the international community that we are still here, that the door is open for a peaceful and lasting solution which does not make a mockery of the rights of the Saharawi people". Then adding: "So long as our rights are not respected the military choice remains a live option." The new plan of James Baker is unfortunately far from satisfying the Saharawis, he affirmed, for "it takes account more of the sovereignty of the cherifian kingdom than of the inalienable right of the Saharawi people for self-determination". It is completely logical, he explained, for the plan to be rejected officially by the Saharawis.

See special Sahara Press Service page with photos etc : http://www.spsrasd.info/sps-30an.html

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

13.03.03
Mohamed Salem Jedou, Hamid Ben Hemdan and Halim Sidati, members of the Forum for Truth and Justice, Sahara section (FVJSS), were interrogated and threatened by agents of the DST and the criminal investigation department in Tan-Tan, their homes were searched without a warrant, and all because of the presence of Polisario flags, raised in the streets on 6 and 7 March last.
On 29.04.03, Arbi Messaoud, also a member of the FVJSS and former political prisoner, was interrogated for three hours in Tantan about the same events and their relation to the FVJ.

23.04.03
Nourdin Mohamed Knaybich, born on 23.05.75 in Tantan, Mahyub Bouchaab, born in 1971 in Tantan, Laarosi Lbaikam, born in 1974 in Goulimime, had deserted the Moroccan army to join the Polisario. Back in Morocco, they were arrested and tortured for 25 and 70 days respectively. On 23 April 2003 they were sentenced by the military tribunal in Rabat to three years' imprisonment. they are incarcerated in the penitentiary centre of Rabat-Salé.

On the eve of the anniversary of the Polisario Front, threats and intimidations against Saharawi activists increased in the occupied territories and southern Morocco, the police looking for leaflets and Saharawi flags.
An example:
20.05.03
An emissary of the pacha of El Ayoun paid a visit to a Saharawi defender of human rights, Lidri Elhoucine, to ask him to go to the office of the pacha, which Lidri refused because there was no official summons. The same evening the pacha himself, who was following Lidri in his car, told him he knew about his "separatist" activities. The pacha threatened him with arrest if the Polisario flags, which he was accused of possessing, were distributed. Lidri is a professor of philosophy, a member of the former executive of the Forum for Truth and Justice in El Ayoun, his name figures on the list of 18 Saharawis accused in the case concerning the dissolution of the FVJ Sahara section.

NATURAL RESOURCES

14.05.03
"The risk of being part of the American oil company Kerr-McGee is considerably greater than predicted, and we are selling, says portfolio manager Kristian Falnes at Skagen Vekst to Aftenbladet. Half the shares were sold yesterday, and the rest will be sold shortly. The reason Skagen Vekst no longer wants to own shares in Kerr-McGee, are the contracts the American company has signed with the Moroccan government. The operations off the Western Sahara coast can rebound on the oil company in other connections, for example that they can be excluded from other assignments. If the international society turns its back on the company, it is running a considerable financial risk, says Falnes. Skagen Vekst was the largest Norwegian shareholder in Kerr-McGee Corporation, holding 100.000 shares. They were worth 30 million kroners (1 USD = 6,9 Norwegian kroners). Skagen Vekst has had a loss of 14 million kroners in the 2 years they held shares in Kerr-McGee. (Stavanger Aftenblad)

REFERENDUM

Security Council : delay
The consultations on Western Sahara have been postponed until Tuesday 27 May. The Secretary General, in his last report, asks for a two month extension for MINURSO's mandate. Meanwhile, the Special representative for WS, William Swing, has been appointed Special representative for the Congo (DRC) from 1 July. He has held the post for WS since November 2001.

MOROCCAN PRISONERS

A delegation of the ICRC visited the Moroccan prisoners in the hands of the Polisario Front from 22 April to 6 May. The delegates talked individually with 707 of the 1,157 prisoners still held to this day. (Morocco / Western Sahara: ICRC visits Moroccan prisoners in Polisario hands, ICRC News 03/56,19.05.03)

20.05.03
Mrs Danielle Mitterrand, in a letter
(French) sent to Mohamed Abdelaziz, asks for the liberation of the Moroccan prisoners of war still being held.

SOLIDARITY

20 May celebrated in Australia
The 30th anniversary of the founding of the Polisario and the start Sydney, Australia at the NSW parliament with a reception hosted by the Hon Dr Meredith Burgmann, MLC, President of the Legislative Council (state parliament). She welcomed Fatima Mahfoud to Sydney at the start of her tour of Australia and New Zealand. For details of Fatima's program see:
http://www.awsa-westernsahara.org

19.-23.05.03
Brussels, European Parliament: "
The Sahara in the European Parliament" Exhibition of photographs by Carlos Bautista (MEP) taken during the visit of the EP delegation to the Saharawi refugee camps in December 2001.

25.05.03
Sveden
Western Sahara Day at the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm, from 10.00-17.00 Various activities during the whole day, exhibitions, films, lectures, discussions etc. Special guests present included Mohamed Ali Mustapha, Danielle Mitterrand, Marianne Eriksson (MEP), Pierre Galand president of EUCOCO, Ronny Hansen from Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, the writer Monica Zak, researcher, Claes Olsson, Saharawis from the camps, diplomats, members of parliament, journalists (further details in
English).

[Vittoria - Madrid - Pays Basque - Pays-Bas, see week 20]

INTERNET

OPINION

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

Français

Les dépêches, articles, etc, sont accessibles aux non-abonnés sur Sahara-Info, liste de courrier (français et espagnol): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages

English

English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages

 

Castellano

Todos los despachos, articulos de prensa, etc, son acessible por no-abonados en Sahara-Info, lista de correo (castellano y francés): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages

Noticias de prensa, Recopilación semanal de todos los articulos de la prensa de España: http://www.nodo50.org/labarored/interpueblos/Sahara/

Português

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