WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 31-32 : 24.07.-07.08.2004

original french

 

NATURAL RESOURCES

30.07.04
Campaign against illegal plundering of hydrocarbons in Western Sahara
At the end of June the International Coalition for the protection of resources in Western Sahara, which is conducting a campaign in the name of the solidarity movement launched a new campaign against illegal plunder of natural resources in Western Sahara. A Dutch company was targeted: FUGRO N.V. with a world-wide reputation specialising in reconnaissance work and advice to the oil and gas industry which has just finished a seismic survey for the oil company Kerr McGee, itself holding a exploration contract granted by the Moroccan authorities in 2001. >>
Fugro Campaign

On 30 July a delegation of 4 members of solidarity NGOs from the Netherlands, Norway, Great Britain and France was received at the headquarters of Fugro in Holland. Talks took place with Mr Kramer, Chairman and CEO of Fugro NV and Mr Jonkman Chief Financial Officer. The delegates were able to express their deep concern about the recent activities of the Dutch corporation, stressing the negative implications for the Saharawi people and its right to self-determination, because providing seismic data to oil companies like Kerr-McGee represents a further step toward the illegal exploration and exploitation by the Moroccan occupying power. At the end of this exchange of views the President of Fugro expressed his readiness to pursue a constructive and open dialogue with the Coalition, and let it be known that he has ordered his subsidiaries to consult Fugro headquarters in the event of any offer for further contracts covering Western Sahara.
>>
Press release POLISARIO Office UK&Ireland, 05.08.04
>>
Press release International Coalition for the protection of resources in Western Sahara, 06.08.04
>>
Fugro fuss over Western Sahara, Barry Morgan, Upstream Online, August 6, 2004

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

22.07.04
Appointments
- Hammoudi Bouhnana, governor of the province of Ausserd replaces Bouchaïb Mekkaoui.
- Mohamed Ennajem Abhai, governor of the province replaces Noureddine Lahbil.
- Amine Lahcen Demnati, governor of the region of Guelmim-Essemara and governor of the province of Guelmim (replaces Ali Kabiri. We recall that the latter proposed that unemployed Saharawis should join the army, and that a group of young Saharawis demonstrated last November outside the Ministry of the Interior in Rabat. They accused him of corruption, financial manipulation and election rigging in favour of non-Saharawis.) [Arso 24.12.03,
week 01/04]

31.07.04
Saharawi victims
The body, Equity and Reconciliation, set up by the king of Morocco to shed light on the "years of lead" and to give compensation to the victims, three months ago appointed a committee of three members which met Saharawi victims and their representatives, without being able to follow up their appeals. Equity and Reconciliation is submerged with requests and it does not know which way to turn as its room for manoeuvre is so limited. The Saharawi victims from the "leaden years" are for the most part former detainees from the secret prisons of Kelaât M'gouna and Agdz. According to Moroccan sources they are believed to number 374. [
TelQuel No 137]

REFERENDUM

24.07.04
Spain
"The role of Spain is to facilitate dialogue between the parties", Interview with Leon Bernadino, Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Nadia Hachimi Alaoui,
Le Journal Hebdomadaire, Maroc (24-30/07/04

26.07.04
Spain-Russia
The Spanish minister of Foreign Affairs and his Russian counterpart noted their agreement "on such key international issues as Iraq, the Middle East, Cyprus and Western Sahara"[
ITAR-TASS]

27.07.04
UN
The senior United Nations envoy for Western Sahara, Alvaro de Soto, has arrived in the region to try to initiate fresh talks with Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO, the UN mission to the disputed territory announced today. In a statement released in Laayoune, MINURSO said Mr. de Soto has already held in-depth consultations in Washington, Paris and Madrid, and was hoping to hold talks with the main parties before the seasonal lull in August. [
UN envoy aiming for talks with both sides of Western Sahara dispute, UN News, 27.07.04]

27.07.04
Italy
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the parliament unanimously adopted a motion asking the Italian government to take steps to make the parties accept the UN Security Council's resolutions to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara and to contribute aid to the European humanitarian program ECHO, to the UNHCR and to the World Food Program for the refugees. [
documento italiano]

28.07.04
Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA), in a letter to UN SG Kofi Annan: «We urge you to appoint a new Special Envoy with the same prestige and stature as Mr. Baker for Western Sahara. The UN must take its responsibility towards the Saharawi people seriously and implement its Peace Plan as soon as possible.» [
Word file]

DIPLOMATIC BALLET - continued

SADR
Léon: renovate the Baker plan
02.08.04
The Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Bernardino Léon Gross, paid a second working visit to SADR, following one on 3 June last. The Spanish Secretary of State was received in the Wilaya of Smara. In a press statement after his talks with President Mohamed Abdelaziz, Léon stressed that the conflict in Western Sahara is an "urgent problem which requires the international community, and above all the UN, to assume their duties beside the principle actors in the conflict". He underlined that his country is becoming active as a "facilitator" to "contribute" to finding a solution to the problem as soon as can be, while respecting the "essence" of the Baker plan. Léon emphasised "the necessity both Morocco and the Polisario Front" should show "flexibility" in their positions, expressing his conviction that it is possible to reach a "consensual" solution to the dispute which respects the right to self-determination of the Saharawis." (SPS)

Morocco
02.08.04
Moratinos: widen the mandate of the special representative for the Sahara 02.08.04
The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, invited by the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs to a festival in Asilah, expressed the wish that the Security Council next October should give an "extended and general" mandate to the new personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Western Sahara, the Peruvian Alvaro de Soto. According to Moratinos, such a widening of the mandate of de Soto would permit him to "explore further and make progress in the search for a political solution which, at the same time, is within the terms of the Baker plan". It should be noted that the Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs, likewise invited by his Moroccan counterpart to the same festival, decided not to go at the last minute.

Algeria
Bouteflika: Dotting the "i"s
03.08.04
In a letter sent to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the Algerian Abdelaziz Bouteflika firmly rejected the possibility of seeing Algeria play an active role in the settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara. President Bouteflika called it a "purely time-wasting procedure to try to treat the problem of Western Sahara as an Algerian-Moroccan problem". (AP)

SADR
Abdelaziz: respect the Peace Plan
03.08.04
In an interview with the Algiers daily, Liberté, the Saharawi President, Mohamed Abdelaziz, considered that France and Spain are "blurring the issue completely around the question of Western Sahara with their positions going contrary to international law, claiming that these two countries are aiming to "distance the international community from the peace plan". [
Liberté, 04.08.04, in Sahara-Info]

SADR
Khaddad: Baker - take it or leave it
04.08.04
In a statement, Mohamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, welcomed the visit of the Spanish Secretary of State, as "a positive act of great usefulness for the two parties in terms of accelerating the process of decolonisation of Western Sahara, interrupted by the tripartite Madrid Accords." Khaddad emphasised that the "solution of the conflict and the road leading to it have been clearly formulated several times by the United Nations, and approved by the Security Council, unanimously by its members, including Spain, namely in the Peace Plan for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara, known as Baker plan II", "a whole which should be implemented completely". It is a complete plan to be taken or left. [Statement
Spanish , english see SPS]

Spain - Demonstrations - Position taking

24.07.04
About 1,500 people took part in a demonstration at Paiporta (Valencia) in favour of a fair solution for the Saharawi people. [
Panorama-Actual, 24/07/2004]

26.07.04
A delegation from Eusko Alkartasuna took part in a united demonstration in Lekeitio (Biscay) for the Saharawi people's right to self-determination. [
Europa Press]

26.07.04
Over 190 Spanish writers and dozens of celebrities from the arts called on the President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to use his voice and his prestige to commit himself to supporting the just cause of the Saharawi people. (SPS) [
full text Spanish]

04.08.04
The spokesman of the National Basque Party (PNV) within the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Senate, Iñaki Anasagasti, pointed out on Wednesday 4 August in Madrid, that the Zapatero Government "is backing Morocco", saying "this is horrible". For his part, the leader of the United Left (IU), Gaspar Llamazares, held forth in front of Zapatero in a meeting which brought them together on Tuesday 3 August in Moncloa, about the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, calling for "the defence of the right of the Saharawi people to decide their own future through a referendum". (SPS)

07.08.04
A march for the referendum of self-determination took place in Algesiras (Cádiz).

06-09.09.04
Coming up
La Plataforma de Mujeres Artistas contra la Violencia de Género (women artists against gender violence) is organising a trip to Algiers with about 60 celebrities from the arts and media in Spain. They will be joined by delegations of Algerian and Saharawi women, to meet the Algerian President Bouteflika, to offer to back up his support for the Baker plan. This event will culminate in a big concert for peace with Spanish, Algerian and Saharawi artists.

ALGERIA-SADR

A week of brotherhood with the Saharawi people in Algiers
In the context of celebrations of a cultural month in Algers, «Estivales d'Alger-Centre», a week of fraternity and solidarity with the Saharawi people is being held from 3-10 August, organised by the APC of Central Algiers in collabo ration with the National Algerian Committee of Solidarity with the Saharawi People and the Club of Friends of Tifariti. The opening took place in the presence of the SADR Prime Minister and a large Saharawi delegation. On 5 August the Algerian Red Crescent handed over a symbolic gift of food and clothes to the President of the Saharawi Red Crescent. For 7 days official meetings with elected members followed audiences, cultural events and others. On Monday 9 August the President of SADR will place a wreath on the Place de l'Emir Abdelkader, then take part in the naming of the Mohamed Sid Ibrahim Bassiri School, named after a Saharawi nationalist hero, then he will plant a tree in the recently named Place Tifariti, and finally will open the Chahid Fadel Ismail Centre of Saharawi Documentation rue Didouche Mourad. In a Saharawi khaima (tent) erected on the Esplanade de la Grande Poste the SADR President and his delegation will welcome dignitaries from the city of Algiers to a soirée. On the last day a new cooperation agreement will be signed between the twin towns of El Ayoun and Central Algiers. [See
programme, media coverage etc and SPS]

MOROCCO

22.07.04
Morocco-USA
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved H.R. 4842, the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act by a 323-99 vote.

30.07.04
Enthronement Speech of the King
"The first of Morocco's priorities will remain reaching a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the artificial conflict created around the question of our Sahara. To this end, we will spare no effort, together with the United Nations, the neighbouring countries and Morocco's other partners, to arrive at this objective, by entrusting our Saharan provinces with wide prerogatives for democratic management of their regional affairs, while respecting the sovereignty of the Kingdom, its national unity, its territorial integrity, and its founding and constant values."
Let us recall that in an interview granted by Mohamed VI to the French daily, Le Figaro, on 4 September 2001, the Moroccan sovereign claimed: "I have settled the question of the Sahara which was poisoning us for twenty-five years"... (
week 36/2001)

FAR (Royal Armed Forces)
General Abdelaziz Bennani, Commander of the Southern Army (occupied Western Sahara), has just been promoted to the position of General Inspector of FAR. His promotion takes him away, in fact, from the Sahara where he directed troops for several years. A replacement should be found for him in the coming months. At the General Inspectorate of FAR, Bennani replaces Abdelhak Kadiri, decorated, but pushed indirectly into retirement. (Tel Quel 138/139)

HUMAN RIGHTS

56th session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, 26 July to 13 August 2004, Geneva.28.07.04
Press document 28.07.04: SUB-COMMISSION EXPERTS AND NGOS DEBATE VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD: Statement M'Hamed Mohamed Cheikh , of International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations

HUMANITARIAN AID

"The Spanish government will devote 3.1 million euros in 2004 to subsidise the needs and improve the living conditions of the Saharawi refugees in the different camps in Algeria", the Socialist Government affirmed which emphasises that this figure represents an increase of 44% over the amount in 2003 when Spain was led by the Popular Party. 1.7 million will be spent on humanitarian aid, 1.39 on social programs set up by NGOs on the ground and 91,000 euros for educational scholarships.

The statement recalls that in parallel with the aid from the State, the Spanish regions also send aid to the Saharawi people: in 2002 this totalled 8 million euros in humanitarian aid. (AFP, 29.07.04)

The government of the Balearic Islands allocates 503,000 euros to development and cooperation projects for the Saharawi people.(EFE, 05.08.04)

SOLIDARITY

Pajina sobre la destruccion del Fuerte de Villa Cisneros, ICOMOS, Comité Español del Consejo Internacional de Monumentos y Sitios

29-31.07.04
A large delegation from the National Union of Saharawi Women, led by its Secretary General Fatma Mehdi took part in the Forum of Barcelona which was held in the Catalan capital over two months. (SPS)

CONGRATULATIONS

"Al Awda" Association, Catania, Italy, communicates that on July 29th 2004, Miss Suad Lagdaf, a Saharawi student, graduated in Political Sciences with full marks and honours, at the University of Catania, Italy. She defended a thesis entitled "Western Sahara: history and present time of a right denied".

COMING UP...

Del 6 al 15 de agosto: El Port de Sagunt - II Campamento Estatal de la Juventud Antifascista, Antiimperialista y Republicana : Martes 10: 18:00 Charla: "El conflicto saharaui". Película "Cuentos del Sahara". Lugar: Cines Alucine.

19.08.04
The Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne, Australia.
Resources and Independence: Parallels between Western Sahara and East Timor
Kamel Fadel (Polisario Representative in Australia)
Alex Tilman (Fretilin)
Helen Hill (Victoria University and chair of Australia-East Timor Association)
Kwame Mfodwo (Monash University Law School)
The Australia-East Timor Association in discussion with the
Australia-Western Sahara Association will explore the many parallels and some of the differences between the situations of the world's newest nation and Africa's last colony with special reference to the issue of control over natural resources.

LAS PRIMERAS JORNADAS INTERNACIONALES SOBRE DERECHOS HUMANOS DEL PUEBLO SAHARAUI se celebraron en la Ciudad de Olivenza (Badajoz) los días 1 y 2 de octubre de 2004. Contactos: Asociación Regional de Amigos y Amigas del Pueblo Saharaui de Extremadura, <saharaex2@badajoz.dip-badajoz.es>

EUCOCO

Zaragoza (Spain), 26, 27 and 28 November 2004. Thirtieth European Coordinating Conference of Support for the Saharawi People

Saragosse 26, 27 et 28 Novembre 2004: 30 Conférence Européenne de Coordination du Soutien au Peuple Sahraoui,

Zaragoza (España) 26,27 y 28 de noviembre 2004. 30 Conferencia Europea de Coordinación del Apoyo al Pueblo Saharaui

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