WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 43 - 44 : 17.10.-30.10.2004

original french

SADR

18.10.04: Germany
M'Hamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, meets with representatives of political parties in the Bundestag (parliament), who "have all expressed their strong support for the Baker plan as the optimal political solution" for the conflict in Western Sahara. [SPS]

18 - 20.10.04: Saharawi Refugee Camps
Conference on the rights of men, women and children, in particular in the refugee camps, organised by the National Union of Saharawi Women. It brought together several dozen women from different wilayas, in addition a large delegation of Swedish women socialists, coming to "exchange ideas with their Saharawi sisters" and to show their support and solidarity. The conference was the occasion for discussions on human rights, more especially concerning women and children in the circumstances of war, violence against women and the dangers from the Moroccan wall, which constitutes a permanent physical violation of human rights. [SPS]

24.10.04: Switzerland
A Saharawi delegation comprising Mohamed Sidati, Minister delegate for Europe and Senia Ahmed, Polisario Front representative in Switzerland, take part in the ordinary congress of the Swiss Socialist Party, which adopts a resolution on Western Sahara.[>> resolution text
French]

26.10.04: Fabrication
The Moroccan press agency, MAP, alleges that Serbia-Montegnegro has withdrawn its recognition of SADR, which it has never recognised! It was the former Yugoslavia, which no longer exists, which had taken this step. [
statement from the SADR Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ communiqué MinAE RASD French]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

22.10.04: Family visits
As part  of the Settlement Plan confidence-building measures, family exchange visits between Saharawis from both sides of the wall, organised by the UNHCR, will start again on 5 November. [SPS]

REFERENDUM

13-14.10.04: Diplomatic meetings
Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, takes up the question of Western Sahara in Budapest with the British and Spanish Prime Ministers, alongside the  Progressive Governance Summit (14 social democrat governments).

16.10.04: Japan
On the occasion of the visit of the President of the African Union Commission, Alpha Konaré, friends of SADR handed him a letter asking the AU to discuss Western Sahara with the Japanese government. [>>
complete text]

18.10.04: GA Fourth Committee ( decolonization) : resolution adopted by vote
The General Assembly's Fourth Committee adopts the draft resolution A/C.4/59/L.4 [
HTML] - [PDF] presented by Algeria and co-signatories, by 52 votes in favour, 89 abstentions and numerous absentees. It is the first time that a vote has been necessary in this Committee.
This resolution, practically identical to that adopted last year by the GA, December 2003, A/58/109, upholds the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and the Baker Plan II as the optimal solution for the decolonisation of Western Sahara. It no longer mentions the Personal Envoy, signifying thereby a refusal to widen the mandate of the new Special Representative, Alvaro de Soto or to modify the plan in the direction Morocco wanted, supported by France and Spain, namely by replacing the referendum with autonomy within Morocco.
The resolution was fiercely resisted by Morocco, but no country, even its faithful allies, voted against. Nobody dared put into question the colonial nature of the problem. Abstention, setting aside that of Morocco and a few of its close supporters (Gabon, Senegal etc) was motivated by the failure to reach a consensus, but does not signify a questioning of support for self-determination. [see
summary of debate in the UN Press release of 18.10.04 ]

20.10.04: Secretary General's Report S/2004/287 [PDF] or  [HTML]
By way of introduction, the SG notes that Morocco has not modified its position of refusing the Baker Plan.
He presents a positive account of the confidence-building measures, family visits and establishment of telephone links in several camps. He brings up the problem of the arrival of illegal immigrants to the region. 53 people are at present being looked after by the Polisario Front awaiting problematic repatriation. [see also in
week 25-26/04, the tragedy of the group of 25 people of Asian origin, expelled by the Moroccan army into the liberated territory, and testimonies in Spanish, in French , and a report in French]
Concerning the food situation of the refugees, Annan points out the risk of shortage of cereals and other essential commodities by November 2004 unless additional supplies are made available.
Concluding, Kofi Annan notes bitterly that an agreement between the parties on the Baker plan "appears more distant today" than in April 2004. He recommends 6 months' extension of MINURSO's mandate.
>> S/2004/287 Arabic, [
PDF]

22.10.04, Baker holds firm
The former personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara expresses the hope, in response to a message from Bouteflika, to "see a day when consensus is reached on a political solution which would be up to settling this conflict, by granting to the people of Western Sahara the right to self-determination, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council."

25.10.04, Japan
Western Sahara Campaign Tokyo and the Sahara-Japan Kagawa Association sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the subject of Japanese policy towards Western Sahara. [
complete text]

25.10.04: Mediation
The Algerian President wishes "that Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa would start negotiations with Morocco and the Polisario Front on the decolonisation process in Western Sahara". Bouteflika was speaking in Johannesburg, on the occasion of the Forum of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

26.10.04: Algeria-Spain
At the end of the official visit of the Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs to Madrid, Belkhadem and Moratinos flag up the convergence of their views on the Baker plan. "The wish of the Spanish government is to be able to implement the Baker plan", declares the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs during a press conference held in common with his Algerian counterpart.  

28.10.04: Resolution S/RES/1570 [HTML]
The Security Council unanimously extends MINURSO's mandate until 30 April 2005 and reaffirms its "will to help the parties reach a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable settlement which allows for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara within the framework of arrangements fitting the aims and principles laid down in the United Nations Charter." [
UN Press release SC 8232 , 28.10.04]

ALGERIA

28.10.04: Algeria
President Bouteflika cancels all military parades planned for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the start of the Algerian War, on 1 November 1954, in order to demonstrate the Algerians' commitment to peace.

TERRORISM

13-14.10.04: Algiers,
Taking part in the "second intergovernmental meeting on the prevention and the war against terrorism in Africa", the Saharawi minister for Justice, Hammada Salma, declares that "Morocco is the greatest threat to security and stability in North Africa", because, "instead of committing itself resolutely to the eradication of the sources of terrorism, arising from religious extremism, drug culture and illegal immigration to Europe, in addition to poverty and unemployment, the Moroccan government prefers to turn its back on this degrading social and political situation  which has ended up changing Morocco into a producer country of terrorism and terrorists". Salma condemns "the phenomenon of terrorism", affirming the willingness of the Saharawi government to contribute to the efforts on the continent aimed at prevention and eradication of this phenomenon, in all its forms within the framework of an African and international strategy." [SPS]

MOROCCO

18.10.04: Armaments
Over the last six months, Morocco has bought arms from Spain to the value of 433,376 euros, "especially adapted for desert warfare", according to minutodigital of 30.10.04.

21.10.04: Morocco-USA
The United States are "committed to a political solution" to the conflict in Western Sahara, the American deputy Secretary of State responsible for the Near East, William Burns said in Rabat.

22.10 04: Driss Basri
The former strongman of Hassan II speaks of "Western Sahara" during a debate on Al Jazeera, instead of the official "Moroccan Sahara", which earns him a deluge of abuse in the press.

27.10.04: Corruption
Certain high-ranking officials from Morocco and the Canary Islands, including the Moroccan Consul General for the Canaries, Abderrahmane Leibek (defector and former President of the Saharawi Red Crescent), the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry from El Ayoun Hassan Derham, and the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Las Palmas, José Miguel Suarez Gil, are accused by a Moroccan daily of being involved in dubious deals. In reaction, the official responsible for External Trade from the Chamber of Commerce in Las Palmas, Sergio Galván, resigns in protest. [Aujourd'hui le Maroc]

28.10.04: Regionalisation
M'hamed Boucetta, former Istiqlal Minister of Foreign Affairs, considers that Morocco should organise two referenda to establish regionalisation, the only solution in his eyes to provide a lasting solution to the problem of the Sahara.

MAURITANIA

Mauritania courted  
On 12 October the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs is received by Bouteflika, on 14 the King of Morocco receives the Mauritanian Minister of the Interior, on 21 the Mauritanian President receives the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, and on 28 the Minister for Foreign Affiars from Algeria.

HUMAN RIGHTS

21.10.04: Human Rights Watch publishes its 2004 report "Morocco Human Rights at a Crossroads. [ full text ] and Press Release , 21.10.04: "Morocco: Counter-terror Crackdown Sets Back Rights Progress. [Arabic ]

24.10.04:  Ali Salem Tamek
The Saharawi former political prisoner would like to go abroad for medical treatment, his health having been seriously affected by his prison spells and hunger strikes. After three requests for a passport, he launches an appeal for help and announces a sit-in outside the pachalik of Assa. Letters are sent to the Moroccan authorities and the Saharawi political prisoners begin hunger strikes. [
Urgent Appeal]
A committee of support, initiated by a dozen Saharawi human rights defenders, is formed and demands the Moroccan authorities to lift this restriction to freedom of movement. [
press statement French]
25.10.04: Sit-in and demonstration in Assa
Following Tamek's appeal, the Saharawi population in Assa, by means of several peaceful marches through the town, joins in Tamek's sit-in outside the pachalik, where various speakers express solidarity with his demands. [
report]
31.10.04:
Victory
Tamek's friends announce that he has received his passport and thank all those who have supported the "Passport for Tamek" action.
In a statement the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders in the "territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control", congratulates to all the actors of this victory and launches an appeal for the support of the Saharawi human rights defenders. They ask for the invalidation of all the professional dismissals, deportations and interdictions of travelling they have faced during the last years. They also call for the restitution of all the passports which have been confiscated by Moroccan authorities. [
French]

26.10.04: UN, Geneva, the Committee of human rights examines the "fifth periodic report" from Morocco. Press release UNHCR
[Human Rights Committee,
Fifth periodic report, Morocco, CCPR/C/MAR/2004/5, 11 May 2004]

30.10.04. The AMDH, (Moroccan Association for the defence of human rights) publishes its "Report parallel with the Moroccan governmental report".

SOLIDARITY

Third European Social Forum, 15.-17.10.04, London: with the title "Western Sahara : last colony of Africa", a seminar attended by over 200 people, was organised as part of the Forum. [report ] http://arso.org.site.voila.fr/esflondon.html

24.10.04, Basque Country : Big demonstration in Bilbao in favour or self-determination for the Saharawi people.

Sevilla 28.10.04: Demonstration "Sahara : Thirty years on. No more betrayals. Handing in a manifesto to the government.

Refugee Week in Australia 24-30.10.04
During a benefit night of music, dance and solidarity in support of the refugees of Western Sahara in Sydney on 27 October, Margaret Piper, Executive Director of the Refugee Council of Australia said that the situation of the Saharawis, can not be tolerated. She urged Australians to do their utmost to support these long-standing refugees and to lobby the Australian government about this issue.
In Melbourne, Jean McLean, President of the Australian Labor Party Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee of Victoria opened an exhibition of photographs of Western Sahara and the camps entitled, "Waiting..." by Georgia Vlassopoulos, saying she had been following the issue since first meeting Saharawis in 1979 at the 10th anniversary of Libyan independence. She looks forward to soon celebrating Saharawi independence in El Ayoun. Afterwards a documentary "It's a long way to Tifariti" by Sydney-based filmmaker Yvette Andrews made its Melbourne debut to wide acclaim. [>>
more] http://arso.org.site.voila.fr/AWSA271004.html

COMING UP...

MADRID-MANIFESTACIÓN
Sabado 13 de noviembre 12 horas.
Salida de Atiocha al Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores. Entrega del manifiesto
Marcha por la libertad del pueblo saharaui
SAHARA 30 AÑOS DESPUES
¡¡ NO MAS TRAICIONES !!
Plataforma civica pro Referendum Sahara Occidental
Coordinadora estatal de Asociaciones de Amistad y Solidaridad con el pueblo Saharaui

Colloque organisé par l''Intergroupe parlementaire belge " Paix pour le Peuple sahraoui "
Vendredi 19 novembre 2004 à 9.30h
Au Parlement belge
Salle de Commission 12 de la Chambre
Rue de Louvain 21 - 1009 BRUXELLES
>>
PROGRAMME
Informations, inscriptions: Fax : 02/511.89.19 E-mail :
sahraoui.comite[at]oxfamsol.be

VUELO CHÁRTER COMUNIDAD VALENCIANA. DICIEMBRE 2004
Del 3 al 11 de diciembre.
Para más información contactar con la Delegación Saharaui para la Comunidad Valenciana. Tel. y Fax  963.943.389, C/Abadia de San martín, 8-1-1.
46.002 Valencia.

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