WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 22

25.- 31.05.2003

OIL

28.05.03
Oil
During the first international Conference on gas and oil, which was held at Marrakech, the Moroccan authorities announced that after over three years' reconnaissance, two big international oil companies are going to take their explorations further in the off-shore zones, by starting forages between now and the end of 2003. This probably means the French company, Total and the American one, Kerr-McGee with which Morocco signed contracts concerning also Western Sahara. (
week 40/2001)

The British company Premier Oil signed a commercial agreement with the Anglo-Australian Fusion Oil & Gas to take part in the future exploration of oil reserves off-shore from Mauritania and Western Sahara. In exchange for financial backing Fusion Oil would grant its partner 35% in an exploration licence signed with SADR. Fusion Oil already holds an exploration agreement with SADR signed in 2002. (week 21+22 / 2002) (Financial Times, 28.05.03)

The Norwegian Committee of solidarity with Western Sahara sent a letter to 51 specialised enterprises in marine seismic exploration, a preliminary to oil exploration, to warn them of the risks connected with any contract involving the seabed off the coast of the territories occupied by Morocco. These companies "should prepare for massive negative PR, shareholder sell-outs, and possible law-suits". This warning follows a campaign which the Norwegian Committee has successfully waged and which ended with the abandonment, by the Norwegian Company TGS-NOPEC, of any new contract in the sector. (Press release Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara)- (original letter)(see also week 10/2003, week 07/2003)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Further acts of intimidation and threats
Si Mohamed, Emman and Ahrayam, close to human rights activists, were arrested and interrogated on 19.05.03, on the pretext of not being in possession of their identity cards and the house of one of them was searched.
Lidri Elhoucine, already harassed by emissaries of the pasha (week 21), was denounced for procuring to the owner of his house, so that he, a Saharawi ex-disappeared, would lodge a complaint against Lidri Elhoucine for endangering public morals.

25.05.03
The detainee
Ali Salem Tamek, who was serving his two-year sentence in Salé prison, has been transferred to the prison of Aït Melloul, 15 km from Agadir, where two other Saharawi political prisoners are, Ahmed Nassiri and Mohamed Mhamed Brahim Nigro. Meanwhile, Tamek, while still in Salé, has been the subject of a new attack by the same co-detainee who attacked him before. The pentitentiary compound of Salé has been partially emptied of many detainees to take in those accused of the Casablanca attacks. You can write to Ali Salem Tamek, No d'écrou 1590, Prison d'Aït Melloul, Aït Melloul, Morocco.

28.05.03
The trial of Moussaoui Dkhil, which should have taken place on 28 May has been postponed until 25 June, due to the absence of a witness and on request from his lawyers, who needed more time to prepare their case. Two barristers from the Canaries attended the court session in El Ayoun.

REFERENDUM

20-22.05.03
UN Special Committee on Decolonisation
The Seminar adopted the following recommendation on Western Sahara: "The participants emphasized the nature of the question of Western Sahara as a decolonisation issue and expressed the need to implement without further delay the United Nations Settlement Plan; agreed by the Kingdom of Morocco and Polisario, in particular the holding of an impartial, free and fair referendum for the People of Western Sahara, in order to allow the people of Western Sahara to exercise their rights to self-determination".

23.05.03
Secretary General's Report S/2003/565 (
PDF)
Kofi Annan asks the Security Council either to abandon the idea of finding a solution acceptable to all the parties and to impose one, the new Baker plan, or to simply drop the matter.
Annan considers that "after over 11 years and nearly 500 million dollars of contributions", the Council should ask the parties to accept this new plan. He proposes a new extension of MINURSO's mandate for two months to study it, which the Council accepted unanimously.
The Secretary General considers that the United Nations Settlement Plan, which they have been trying to put in place since 1991, cannot be implemented in its present form.
To the four options proposed by Annan last year to the Security Council (
S/2002/178) (1. implementation of the settlement plan without the assent of the parties, 2. framework-agreement or Baker Plan I, 3. partition of the territory, 4. withdrawal of the UN), another has now been added as a 5th option, Peace Plan for self-determination in Western Sahara (Baker Plan II). <annex III in S/2003/565, PDF) Annan considers this 5th option as "an optimal political solution", a "fair and balanced proposal", which "gives partially, if not entirely, satisfaction to each of the parties", and which "gives to the authentic inhabitants the possibility of deciding their future".
He does not demand the consent of the parties, it is non-negotiable. The Polisario Front, in its stance annexed to the report <annex III in S/2003/565 (
PDF), prefers the initial Settlement Plan, and proposes an acceleration of the process by accepting the immediate treatment of the appeals for identification without the help of Shioukh (tribal leaders), as well as measures to guarantee the respect of the results of the referendum. For Algeria, the Baker Plan II "contains the terms for a bid for peace in the Maghreb", but it must be supported by real guarantees. Morocco remains favourable to the solution of autonomy (framework-agreement/Baker Plan I). For it the referendum should only have two questions: autonomy or integration with Morocco. The SG, as a compromise proposes a vote in two stages with 3 possibilities: independence, autonomy or integration. If none obtains a majority in the first round, whichever has the least number of votes is eliminated.

MOROCCO-SPAIN

27.05.03.
Abderrahman Leibek has just been designated Moroccan Consul for the Canary Islands. Born in Dakhla in 1948, this Saharawi mining engineer joined the Polisario Front in 1979, when he worked as a Saharawi Red Crescent official and as director of the 27 February School. Leibek defected in March 1990.

ALGERIA

26.05.03
A Saharawi delegation, led by Prime Minister Bouchraya Beyoun, went to Algiers to express the condolences of the Saharawi people and government after the earthquake which hit Algeria. They took symbolic aid to the national fund of solidarity "as a token of the ties of fraternity and solidarity which united our two peoples". (SPS)

HUMAN RIGHTS

21-24.05.03
The Secretary General of the Union of Saharawi Lawyers took part in the Congress of the International Association of Democrat Lawyers in Marseilles (France). In the course of this conference, the Saharawi lawyer had talks with representatives of NGOs and lawyers, whom he informed about the latest developments of the conflict. He made a contribution during the closing plenary session along the same lines, drawing the attention of participants to the fact that the Saharawi people are not asking more than to be able to exercise their right to self-determination.

SOLIDARITY

23.05.03
New Zealand
POLISARIO representative Fatima Mahfoud has begun a ten day speaking tour of New Zealand. On May 22 in Auckland she spoke at a meeting at Auckland University organised by members of the executive committee of the Auckland University Students' Association and the Students for Justice in Palestine. That evening she addressed a public meeting. In attendance were members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the African community, refugee organisations, Palestinian solidarity activists and members of human rights organisations. On May 23 Fatima spoke at a meeting at Waikato University in Hamilton, organised by a professor in the department of education. Fatima also had an opportunity to meet with Keith Locke, Green Party member of Parliament to discuss the issue of Western Sahara.

25.05.03
Africa Group of Ambassadors/High Commissioners on Celebration of Africa Day, Maputo (Mozambique)
«We urge the Saharawi Democratic Republic and Morocco to implement both UN-OAU settlement of peace plan and the Houston Agreement accepted by themselves. A free, just and impartial referendum of self-determination is only the democratic solution which permits the Saharawi people to choose their destiny in order to achieve lasting peace in the region. We call upon the International Community to move quickly towards the implementation of the peace process.»

24-25.05.03, Dunya Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The music group El Ouali, based in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria, and 2 Sahrawi poets (Ali Mohamed Ali Salem and Ahmed Sulaiman Chiaâ) gave several succesful performances during the Dunya Festival. For this occasion, the group was invited to come with 6 musicians and dancers. The opening concert of the festival was entirely dedicated to the Sahrawi culture, with a combined program of music, danse, poetry and images (projection of pictures of the Western Sahara and the refugee camps). The Sahrawi artists succeeded in spreading during all their performances a message of peace and an appeal for mutual respect with the neighbouring countries.

26.05.03: le conseil municipal de NONANTOLA (province de Modène, Italie) a adopté une résolution en faveur de l' autodétermination du peuple sahraoui. Une lettre a été envoyée au Secrétaire Général de l'ONU.

HUESCA TERRITORIO HUMANO
Jornadas solidarias con destino a los Campamentos de Refugiados Saharauis , 27-31.05.03.

Barcelona, 29.05.03
Sàhara Occidental la violació sistemàtica dels drets humans. Participants: Anna Badia, Catedràtica de dret internacional públic, UB, Cristina Navarro, Jurista, membre de l'Associació Internacional Juristes pel Sàhara, Emboirik Ahmed, Delegat del Front Polisario a Catalunya, Jordina Tarré Periodista.

INTERNET

NEW PUBLICATIONS
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