WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

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WEEK 30 + 31

20.07.-02.08.2003

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Ali Salem Tamek political prisoner

19.07.03: Saharawi political prisoners in the black prison of El Ayoun start a hunger strike of 48 hours in solidarity with Ali Salem Tamek, on hunger strike since 9 July. (communiqué french + spanish )

20.07.03: AFAPREDESA, concerned by the deterioration in the state of health of Tamek, appeal to the Moroccan authorities to intervene. (comunicado spanish)

24.07.03: Discussions take place between the representatives of three Moroccan human rights NGOs, AMDH, OMDH and the FVJ, with the Minister for Justice, who promises to restore to Tamek the advantages he gained in Salé prison. As nothing was happening, Tamek decides on 27 July on self-immolation on the 30th. (Appeal of the Action Committee for the release of Tamek and all Saharawi political prisoners - Press release WSC UK, 29.07.03)

The UN Secretary General, called on by Mohamed Abdelaziz over Tamek's case, assures that he will give the matter of the situation of the political prisoner the attention it deserves. (SPS)

30.07.03: Tamek Ali Salem postpones his decision and calls off his hunger strike. In a statement (French),he explains his decision, which is a response to the request of several national and international human rights organisations and his fellow activists. Following a dialogue with the Minister for Justice and the Director of Aït Melloul prison, and in the presence of an envoy from the Forum for Truth and Justice, some of his demands are met, but have still to be implemented.

See also: A Brief record of the life of Ali Salem Tamek, a paper prepared by the Action Committee for the Liberation of Ali Salem Tamek and all the Sahraoui prisoners.(Word document to download )

REFERENDUM

29.07.03
The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ana Palacio, receives in Madrid the Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz, as part of consultations on the search for a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. (
SPS)

30.07.03
Kofi Annan receives Mhamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with the UN, who gives him a message from the President of SADR, concerning the latest developments on the question of Western Sahara in the light of James Baker's proposal. The UN Secretary General expresses his "great appreciation of the position of the Polisario Front in relation to Baker's proposal".

31.07.03
Security Council resolution
S/RES/1495 (2003) (PDF)
The Security Council extends MINURSO's mandate until 31 October 2003 asking the parties to accept the new UN Peace Plan. Several expert sessions, several meetings of the Council and intensive discussions were necessary to end up with a resolution which "supports" the Peace Plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara (Baker plan 2), "as an optimum political solution on the basis of agreement between the two parties". The Council asks the parties to work on the acceptance and implementation of this Peace Plan.

The US draft resolution was strongly contested by France, at the request of Morocco, which refused the new Baker plan categorically. Even the day before the decision of the Council, the Moroccan government expressed "its rejection of the draft Peace Plan proposed by the Secretary General's Personal Envoy in so far as it considers it contrary to its fundamental national interests and to peace and security in the Maghreb region", and the King, in his speech on the anniversary of his enthronement, affirmed "that Morocco has closed at an internal level, the question of the legitimate recuperation of its southern provinces and that it is mobilised and holding itself ready with all its forces to defend its territorial integrity."(Press Release SC/7833)

REACTIONS

Polisario Front
Mhamed Khadad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, expresses the Polisario Front's satisfaction in the failure of Moroccan attempts to oppose the efforts of the United Nations. He considers that this resolution has the capacity to re-launch the peace dynamic and reminds Morocco that the policy of intransigence and escapism is dangerously counter-productive and causes the region to run serious risks for which it alone holds responsibility. France, he adds, which shone in the debate within the Council by its partiality and siding with Morocco, revealed to the peoples of the Maghreb that it does not want a just and lasting peace in this region which is so close to it. (
Declaration)

Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario representative at the UN, declares that the adoption of the resolution signifies "a defeat for Morocco" and proves that "the international community is not disposed to play Morocco's game." "We hope that Morocco will wish to collaborate", he concludes.

Morocco
Morocco's Ambassador at the UN, Mr Benounna, also stated himself to be satisfied "because the resolution does not impose the Baker plan on the parties". But he repeats that Morocco does not accept the electoral body foreseen in the plan nor the referendum of self-determination, even though it is ready for direct negotiations with Algeria and the Polisario Front.

In parallel with the debate in the Security Council on Western Sahara, at least two Moroccan weeklies have dared to tackle the problem. Tel Quel published a provocative article and opened a subsequent discussion, and Le Journal published a big feature with contributions from Jamaï, Serfaty, Mohsen-Finan, Lopez-Garcia and Monjib (scanned documents available onrequest in JPG format, 3 Mo)

Algeria
Algeria welcomes "with satisfaction" the adoption of the resolution, and "hails the new highly promising direction which results from it".(APS) The Deputy Minister responsible for Maghreb and African affairs affirmed that the resolution "creates a new dynamic towards a lasting settlement for the question of Western Sahara".

Spain
Mr. Arias, Ambassador to the UN, considers that the adoption of the resolution by consensus is an important step towards achieving a just and lasting peace. Spain, which has always maintained a neutral policy of not imposing a solution, spared no effort to assemble as large a consensus as possible. It wishes to call on the parties not to let this occasion pass and to start a dialogue which will lead to acceptance of the Peace Plan. (UN News)

MOROCCO

25.07.03
General Hamidou Laânigri, head of the DST, has been appointed to the position of General Director of National Security replacing Hafid Benhachem to whom the monarch has not given another job.
The King also appointed Ahmed Harari to the position of Director General of the DST to replace General Hamidou Laânigri. Ahmed Harari, who is reputed to be close to King Mohamed VI, formerly directed the DST services in Casablanca, it was learned in Rabat. (AFP)

SOLIDARITY

Austria - Slovenia
On saturday 12.07.03 ten Western Sahara children arrived in Austria. They will stay for holidays 5 weeks in Austria and one week in Slovenia as guests of the Western Sahara support Society (Ljubljana) at the Slovenian coast. It will be the first group who have ever visited Slovenia from a refugee camp.

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