WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 41-42 : 03.10.-16.10.2004

original french

 

SADR

02-04.10.04
SADR - Venezuela
The two countries signed cooperation agreements in education, health and social assistance at the conclusion of a visit by a Saharawi delegation. A mixed committee and four sub-committees have been set up. The delegation had talks with the president Hugo Chavez, who declared in his speech on the occasion of the opening of new housing built in the interior of his country, that he supports "with all our might the struggle of the Saharawi people for self-determination and dignity".

05-07.10.04
Algeria - South Africa - Nigeria
During a visit to South Africa, the Algerian president described as "a courageous and far-sighted gesture" the recognition of SADR by South Africa, considering that it had made a "highly positive impact". It's a "very important contribution" to the struggle of the Saharawi people for their right to self-determination", he added. In his reply the South African president declared that his country would continue to support the cause of Western Sahara. Bouteflika spoke in a similar vein during the visit to Algeria of the Iranian president, Mohamed Khatami, a few days earlier. He did the same again on 7 October during his meeting with the president of Nigeria, Olésegun Obasanjo, calling on the "United Nations to pursue their efforts towards the implementation of the Baker Plan, which cannot be circumvented, for a fair and lasting settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara in accordance with international law.

12.10.04
National Unity
Festivities marked the 29th anniversary of National Unity, given the theme "Saharawi culture is the source of national unity and a reinforcement of the popular Intifada". The Saharawi President, accompanied by the Algerian Minister of Culture, Khalida Toumi and her Saharawi counterpart, Mariam Salek H'Mada, opened a national library in Chahid El Hafed. On this occasion Mrs Toumi reiterated Algeria's support for the Saharawi cause and brought as a gift from the Algerian people to the new library 25,000 books including 15,000 for children. The festivities continued with a visit to the military museum, folk processions and a cultural evening of music and dance. Cultural activities will continue for four days as part of the 13th National Festival of culture.[SPS] [National unity around the objective of independence was proclaimed on 12 October 1975, at a moment when the Spanish colonial power was getting ready backstage to "sell" the territory through signing the tripartite Madrid accords and when Hassan II was preparing the Green March. It signified the end of the authority of tribal leaders, who rallied to the Polisario Front].

15.10.04
Demonstration
About a hundred representatives of over 40 institutions in the Canary Islands demonstrated at Chadhmia (in the Mahbès region), at the military wall. They condemned successive postponements of the referendum of self-determination of the Saharawi people and demanded the dismantling of this "symbol of Moroccan military occupation". The demonstration was organised by FEDISSAH, the National Federation of Institutions in solidarity with the Saharawi People.[SPS]

SADR - SPAIN
07.- 08.10.04
Visit of the Spanish Secretary of State for cooperation
Mrs Leire Pajin, was received by the Prime Minister, who was keen to point out that "the question of Western Sahara is a question of decolonisation and is a political problem, which can't be viewed only from the angle of refugees needing humanitarian aid, but rather from the point of view of Spain's historical responsibility who abandoned the (Saharawi) territory before decolonising it". He reminded the audience of the existence of "a plan called the Baker Plan, a political solution which should be implemented". Mrs Pajin came "bearing a message of support from the Spanish people to the Saharawi people" and with the will to "strengthen cooperation in technical and humanitarian areas for the Saharawi refugees", which could grow already this year and could be doubled in 2005. The Spanish government announced at the end of July a grant worth 3.1 million euros for the year 2004. This sum represents an increase of 44% in relation to the aid supplied in 2003.
During a dinner given in honour of the Secretary of State, Mr Abdelaziz declared that Spain remains "responsible for what has happened and what is still going on in Western Sahara" and called on the former colonial power to "defend the Baker Plan...without any modifications, amendments or changes". The Saharawi leader sent to the Spanish people a message of gratitude for its "unwavering support on all fronts". [SPS]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Human Rights
30.09.04: A Saharawi citizen, Balla Salmi Bouaâilla, who was arrested by the police in Dakhla, has been given a two months suspended prison sentence
08.10.04: The Governor of Smara informed Ahmed Naciri that his situation would be settled in the coming days, who then postponed his hunger strike.

06.09. - 31.12.04
Moroccan military manoeuvres
Spain has issued over-flying restrictions for 4 months, from September to December 2004, over a zone situated between El Ayoun and Dakhla, because of Moroccan military manoeuvres off-shore from Western Sahara, according to a note sent by the Spanish National Company of Airports and Air Traffic Control (AENA) to companies serving El Ayoun. Morocco apparently alerted Spain, responsible for the control of airspace above its former colony, that the Royal Navy would be proceeding with firing exercises. Certain sources think that the military reasons are a pretext and that the real reason could be oil reconnaissance or illegal immigration. [La Provincia 05.10.04, El Mundo 10.10.04, La Opinion de Tenerife 12.10.04 in
Sahara-Info]

14.10.04
The first session of the "Council of Administration of the Agency for the Economic and Social Promotion and Development of the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom" (sic) was opened in El Ayoun under the presidency of the Prime Minister Driss Jettou.
He announced the implementation of an economic development plan for Western Sahara costing 7.2 billion dirhams (650 million euros) for the period 2004-2008. [agencies]

The Saharawi president roundly condemned "the illegal visit being carried out by the Moroccan Prime Minister in El Ayoun". In a letter sent to the President of the Security Council, Emry Jones Parry, Mohamed Abdelaziz called on the United Nations body to "intervene rapidly to put an end to the politics of "fait accompli" being pursued by the Moroccan authorities". He expressed his "great disquiet on the subject of the policy of provocation and escalation being carried out at the present time by the Moroccan authorities, which presents serious threats to peace and security in the region of North Africa." [SPS]

REFERENDUM

Update on the eve of the deadline of MINURSO's mandate on 31 October 2004
Reminder
In his three last reports of October 2003, January and April this year, the UN Secretary General asked the Security Council for an extension of MINURSO's mandate, pending a response from Morocco to the Baker Plan.

At the end of August the "memorandum" of the Polisario Front to all UN member states is sent to Kofi Annan. The Saharawi Front denounces Morocco firmly, for "failing on its stated commitments to the settlement plan", and reaffirms that it will continue to cooperate with the UN "to obtain the implementation either of the Peace Plan [Baker II] , or the Settlement Plan, the two proposals which have received approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly."[Letter of President Abdelaziz to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan]

On 24 September, Morocco makes public its "memorandum of clarification" to the Secretary General, in which it denies to the conflict its dimension of decolonisation, and presents it as a dispute between Algeria and Morocco. It refuses the Baker Plan and the self-determination of the Saharawi people, renegs on the agreements signed with the Polisario Front and relentlessly points to "the responsibility of Algeria" in the genesis of the conflict and its persistance, in order to demonstrate the "direct implication" of its neighbour and their "custodianship" over the Polisario.

Escalation of the war of words
The anti-Algerian press campaign, which started following the recognition of SADR by South Africa, increases at the end of September. The MAP sums up on 28 September: "the national press targets the hegemonic designs of Algiers". The press speaks of "Algeria's double game", of the "Algerian impasse", of the "dangerous role of Algeria", of "hostile positions of Algeria", of Algeria as the real obstacle to settlement", etc. The Algerian press is not to be outdone and counter-attacks.

And it doesn't end there. Several Moroccan dailies mount an exposé of arms purchases by Algeria, speaking of an arms race, an escalation, of "buying fever". On 1 October, Maroc-Hebdo headlines "Algiers prepares for war". Three days later, the Moroccan military headquarters denies the rumour appearing in an Algerian paper, alleging a detachment of the Moroccan army had been intercepted near Tindouf.
On 5 October, the Secretary General of the Polisario Front, in a letter to Kofi Annan, replies to the Moroccan memorandum and denounces "the shameful attempt by Morocco to turn the attention of the international community away from the truth by seeking a "scape goat" for its unacceptable policy of obstruction to the efforts of the United Nations".
In a tendentious statement dated 7 October the AFP mentions a possible war between Algeria and Morocco, alluding to the "unusual movements" of Algerian troops on the frontier with Morocco, according to the Moroccan daily, Al Alam, on the evidence of "local witnesses". The Moroccan press taking a lead from the French agency accuses Algeria of preparing for war, forcing the Algerian minister for Foreign Affairs to refute "any idea of war". The government officially denies on 14 October there is a reinforcement of troops on the border. And it hasn't finished yet... [Sources:
Sahara-Info, sélections de presse en français et espagnol]
[Read: ANALYSIS:
Algeria & the conflict of Western Sahara: Separating facts from fiction, in Morocco's media unrelenting attack, Khatry Beirouk] [Argelia y el conflicto del Sáhara occidental: Separar la información imparcial de la mera propaganda. Khatry Beirouk, Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos ]

Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (Fourth Committee)

Once again this year the question of Western Sahara is on the agenda of this committee, which is concerned with the sixteen territories on the UN's list which are still "non-self-governing" and of which the administrative authorities are one of five countries, namely United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, France and Spain.
Concerning Western Sahara, it should be pointed out that the great majority of the numerous countries which spoke pointed out the urgency of ensuring self-determination for the population of the former Spanish colony and made allusion to the new Baker plan for the implementation of a just and lasting solution.
Only Gabon and Senegal argued along Moroccan lines in favour of integration of the territory.
Following Ahmed Boukhari, speaking for the Polisario Front, about twenty petitioners representing parliamentarians from the US Congress and solidarity and human rights organisations were heard. The complete list and some of the speeches are accessible on the
special page, as well as the official statements from the UN etc.

During the debate the representative of Morocco took a very rigid stance affirming that the dispute is a regional one between Morocco and Algeria and not a question of decolonisation, accusing the latter of setting up obstacles to a peaceful settlement. He reaffirmed his country's rejection of the Baker plan but declared himself ready to engage in debate with Algeria. To this the Algerian representative, Baali, replied firmly, replacing the problem in its context of decolonisation, recalling that nobody has ever recognised Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, which is a non-self-governing territory recognised by the UN.
The discussion of the draft resolution to put before the General Assembly reflected this polarisation and was heated, Morocco opposing the proposal drawn up by Algeria and several dozen other countries. On 12.10 approval was postponed for 48 hours at the request of the EU, to reach the usual consensus. Two days after the compromise presented by the EU had failed to achieve a consensus, the decision was again postponed until 18.10, at the request of Senegal and Gabon, to try once again to obtain a consensus. The committee was given guidance by the legal department on the way to manage decisions without a consensus.

Coming up: Security Council
Kofi Annan's report on the mission is due next Friday, and discussions in the Council are scheduled for 25th and 26th October.

07.10.04
Confidence building measures
M'hamed Khaddad, coordinator with MINURSO and Senia Ahmed, Polisario Front representative in Switzerland, had a working meeting at the office of the UNHCR with Nouicer Radouane and Philipe Lagouel, respectively Regional Director of the High Commission for Refugees and head of the cabinet of the Special representative of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara. The session was devoted to the question of confidence-building measures and in particular evaluating the program of exchange visits over the last six months and the prospects of continuing it. The HCR officials welcomed the cooperation of the Polisario Front in the matter of implementing all the proposed confidence-building measures (telephone, mail and exchange visits) and informed the Saharawi delegation that the visits will begin again soon and run until the end of 2004, meanwhile a new program will be adopted for 2005.

08.10.04
Andalusian Parliament adopts a motion supporting the Saharawi people's right to self-determination
The Andalusian Parliament unanimously adopted a motion in which it exhorted the Andalusian autonomous and Spanish central Governments to "continue with their efforts for the settlement of the conflict (of Western Sahara) within the framework of the UN", in a manner to guarantee the "Saharawi people's legitimate right to self-determination". The motion also asks for an increase in humanitarian aid for the refugees.

MOROCCO- SPAIN

13.-14.10.04
The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, on a working visit to Morocco, was received in Tangiers by the King of Morocco. At the end of the talks Moratinos announced that "Spain is working on a resolution of the Sahara" with a view to the UN Security Council meeting due at the end of October, in "consultation" with France and the United States. He added, "It will not be easy, certain parties prefer to keep to what is considered as a more technical resolution. For us, we want the resolution to get the widest consensus possible and allow the United Nations to work, for it's the UN which, in the final analysis, has to re-launch the process." He emphasised that the necessity of allowing the mediator, Alvaro de Soto to re-launch the process and to create a situation which would allow the implementation of the Baker plan. Adding that "if the present mandate does not permit it, then it will have to be widened." [agencies]

SOLIDARITY

05.10.04
Male-Female Equality
A delegation comprising members of the Basque foundation Emakunde and from Basque municipalities goes to the refugee camps to present a draft Basque law for equality between men and women and to raise awareneness among the Saharawis with a view to their participation in political life, in particular the forthcoming municipale elections in SADR. This initiative is developed in collaboration with the National Union of Saharawi Women. Meetings with governmental and parliamentary bodies were held as with the NUSW.

06.10.04
An African committee of solidarity with the Saharawi people has been created in Algiers, on the occasion of the congress of the Pan-African Youth Union. (UPJ). [agencies]

07.10.04 
La plataforma "Cataluña con el pueblo saharaui" ha sido recompuesta en la sede del Parlamento Catalán para "emprender acciones que tienden a conseguir que la comunidad internacional obligue a Marruecos, a través de sanciones políticas o económicas, a permitir la autodeterminación del pueblo saharaui", según el que fue juez anti-corrupción Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, presente en la ceremonia. La plataforma está compuesta por eurodiputados, representantes de todos los partidos políticos catalanes, sindicatos, el Consejo de la Juventud, ONG, Asociaciones de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui y diversas organizaciones sociales y políticas implantadas en Cataluña.

14.10.04
Refugee Studies Centre University of Oxford
Seminar: The Saharawi refugee camps: death and stagnation in no man's land. Speaker:Fatima Mahfud

16 + 17 d'octubre 2004
Associació Catalana d'Amics del Poble Sahraui
PRIMERA ACAMPADA SOLIDÀRIA AMB EL POBLE SAHRAUÍ A LA PLATJA DE VILANOVA
Amb el lema NO ELS VOLEM REFUGIATS, el moviment solidari amb el poble sahrauí de l'Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès i Vilanova de l'Associació Catalana d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí (ACAPS) ha organitzat una acampada solidària i festiva amb el poble sahrauí. L'acampada, que simularà un campament de refugiats, es farà el cap de setmana del 16 i 17 d'octubre, a la platja Ribes Roges de Vilanova i la Geltrú. L'acampada té l'objectiu de sensibilitzar i mostrar el nostre rebuig a l'ocupació marroquí del Sàhara Occidental, exigint la celebració d'un referèndum d'autodeterminació net i transparent. >>
http://www.e-vilanova.com/sahara

16.10.04
Séminaire au Forum Social Européen de Londres - Seminar at the European Social Forum - Seminario al Foro Social Europeo di Londres
Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa - El Sáhara Occidental: la última colonia de África sin descolonizar - Le Sahara Occidental, dernière colonie d'Afrique
Speakers: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Pierre Galand -Forum Nord Sud (Bel), Mohamed SIDATI -EU Polisario representative (W.Sahara), Antonio López-Fedissah (ESP), Felipe Briones -I.A.J.U.W.S. (ESP)

COMING UP...

MELBOURNE -AUSTRALIA
26 th OCTOBER - 5th NOVEMBER 2004
"Waiting ... " photographs of Western Sahara by Georgia Vlassopoulos
>>
Info

VOL "CATALUNYA AMB EL SÀHARA" Desembre 2004
SORTIDA de l'aeroport de Barcelona : 3 de desembre a les 20 h.
TORNADA de l'aeroport de Tindouf, Algèria el dia 8 de desembre a les 18 h.
Contact: ACAPS Vilanova i la Geltrú, Espai d'Entitats, C/Sant Pau, 13 Despatx 5 08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú, fax. 93 814 37 76
e-mail :
acaps_vilanova[at]yahoo.es

5. Sahara Marathon : 28.02.2005
Info
Italy
Germany http://www.tuerlings.de/saharamarathon/main.html
España:
diegom@lastlap.com

ITALIA
Anche quest'anno l'Associazione Jaima Sahrawi di Reggo Emilia intende organizzare il campo di lavoro "Jalla gumu" presso i campi profughi Sahrawi nella zona di Tindouf (Algeria).
Il progetto avrà la durata di circa due settimane, (periodo dicembre-gennaio in occasione delle vacanze di Natale).
I partecipanti saranno impegnati ad organizzare attività ricreative con le bambine ed i bambini Sahrawi. Durante la permanenza ai campi saranno organizzate alcune visite a luoghi di particolare interesse, finalizzate a promuovere la conoscenza della realtà dei campi di rifugiati.
Per ricevere ulteriori informazioni ed inviare domande di partecipazione rivolgersi a:
Associazione "Jaima Sahrawi", via S. Vincenzi 10/a, 42100 Reggio Emilia.
E-mail:
jaimasahrawi[at]libero.it Tel/Fax (Associazione): 0522 430307

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