WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 45-46 : 31.10.-13.11.2004

original french

SADR

02.11.04, Moroccan Press
Mohamed Abdelaziz gave an interview to the Moroccan weekly, El Bidaoui, which reproduced 4 out of the 7 initial questions and answers. Questioned on Moroccan-Saharawi bilateral negotiations which took place fairly recently, the SADR President expressed his disappointment at the way Morocco has denied agreements which it had been difficult to obtain and side-stepped them. The last time being a final attempt by South Africa to mediate, which Morocco wriggled out of at the last minute.
He took advantage of this platform to launch "an appeal to the Moroccan avant-garde, its cultured and enlightened members, to refrain from circulating half-truths and lies to the Moroccan people". Adding that "it is high time to recognise this age-old Saharawi reality and to give up lying and propaganda which the Moroccan people have been subjected to since the beginning of the conflict, presenting the Saharawi State as being harmful to the national interests of Morocco and its people. We refute these assertions and affirm the contrary, and we reaffirm to our Moroccan brothers that our project for the Saharawi state is based on a global vision which safeguards the interests of all, a state capable of participating positively in complementarity, democracy and the development of the region." [full text
translated into English by SPS]

04.11.04, Mali
The envoy of the Saharawi President, Khalil Sidi M'Hamed, Minister for the Occupied Territories, carrying a message from the Saharawi President to his Malian counterpart, was received in Bamako by the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré. [SPS].

10.11.04, Mozambique
The Saharawi Embassy in Maputo announces that Mr Adda Hmeim had presented his credentials to the Mozambican President, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, as Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for SADR with the Government of the Republic of Mozambique. [SPS]

10.11.04, Mauritania
The President of the Republic of Mauritania, Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, gave an audience to El Khalil Sidi M'Hamed, Saharawi Minister for Colonies, as special envoy of the President of SADR. [SPS]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

28.10.04, Smara
In a statement, Saharawi unemployed graduates from Smara denounce police harrassment and social and economic conditions which result from Morocco's policy of occupation of Western Sahara. They demand the support of human rights organisations to deliver Western Sahara from the present political and media blockade, so that pressure is brought to bear on Morocco to improve their living conditions and remove all violence towards Saharawis.

06.11.04, Launch of local television in El Ayoun.
Moroccan TV inaugurates a daily three-hour slot in Hassaniya , "of a political nature to counteract the propaganda of the Polisario". There will be both terrestrial and satellite coverage. [agencies]

07.11.04, Smara
Reacting to increasing popular discontent in Smara, two Moroccan political parties (Socialist Youth of the USFP and the PPS, Party of Progress and Socialism) organise a "popular gathering" in Smara, presided over by the Secretary General of the JS, accompanied by the parliamentarian, Gajmoula Bent Abbi, three members of the political executive of the PPS, including a minister, local officials of the JS and the PPS with about a hundred people present. The meeting, whose aim is to "reinforce the interior front", lasts for nearly five hours and is devoted to the latest developments of the Sahara question, to the catastrophic economic management of the region and prospects for development. [
Al Bayane, Le Matin]

08.11.04, El Ayoun
Creation in El Ayoun of a local committee of support for the international campaign for the protection of human rights defenders in Western Sahara. Led by an executive of thirteen members with Tamek Ali Salem as chair, it is made up of Saharawi lawyers, trades unionists and former political prisoners in the occupied territories. It launches an appealfor the support of the human rights defenders in Western Sahara by sending messages to the Moroccan government. [
see special page ] [SPS]

10.11.04, El Ayoun
The Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders in "the territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control" calls for solidarity and support for Saharawi human rights defenders, it denounces acts of intimidation perpetrated by Moroccan authorities towards them and demands the measures taken against them to be annulled and for respect of the right to freedom of association for Saharawi human rights organisations. [
Statement ]

REFERENDUM

Reactions after the adoption of resolution 1570 in the Security Council

30.10.04, SADR
Moroccan attempts aiming to give a new mandate to the United Nations Secretary General's special representative in order to introduce amendments or make adjustments to the Baker paln "were completely ignored by the Security Council", declares M'hamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, to APS. According to Khaddad, the Security Council notes the present impasse in the decolonization process in Western Sahara "which is entirely due to the Moroccan regime which (...) has rejected the peace plan presented by James Baker". [El Moudjahid]

30.10.04, France
France "supports the search for a political solution accepted by all the parties, within the framework and under the aegis of the United Nations", it "hopes that these six months can be used by the parties to work with the Secretary General as well as with his Special Representative, and between them, reach a mutually agreeable settlement", a spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares.

01.11.04, Algeria
It is with great satisfaction that Algeria welcomes the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1570 on Western Sahara", declares the spokesperson of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

01.11.04, Morocco
Morocco warmly welcomes the adoption of resolution 1570 on the question of the Sahara, calling for "an end to the present impasse and progress towards a political solution", a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates.

Moroccan diplomatic offensive

Finding it necessary to garner support for its position in a Moroccan-Algerian conflict, Morocco undertakes a broad based diplomatic action. Acting as the personal emissary of the King, the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, accompanied by a large delegation, visits one after the other, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, most of whom voted for the resolution favouring SADR in the 4th Committee. Benaïssa also travels to Saudi Arabia.
EFE, announces on 6 November, quoting Al Sharq al Awsat, that the King of Morocco will undertake from 22 November, a tour of Latin America and that he will visit Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile.

31.10.04, Egypt' mediation: denial
In the rush of the visit of the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs to Cairo, agencies report that the Egyptian government wants to promote contact between Algeria and Morocco, "who are opponents in the conflict in Western Sahara", according to the spokesman of President Mubarak.
The Saharawi government expresses its "astonishment and surprise" through the voice of its Minister for Foreign Affairs, M. Mohamed Salem ould Salek [
Déclaration 01.11.04] [Declaración 01.11.04 ]

The Algerian Ministry for Foreign Affairs immediately spells out that the question of Western Sahara is a problem of decolonization, that Algeria is not a party in the conflict, and, on 3 November, the spokesman of the Egyptian President denies the news, adding that the question of Western Sahara is in the hands of the UN and that Egypt was keen that the dispute should not affect relations between Morocco and Algeria (sic). [Official Egypt Government website ]

04.11.04, Tunisia
The Spanish news agency EFE, alleges that Morocco requested the mediation of Tunisia when the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs visited the country. The Algerian President has a brief meeting in Tunis with his Tunisian counterpart, to inform him, among other things, about the question of Western Sahara.

09.11.04, Zimbabwe' mediation : denial
Zimbabwean media announce that Benaïssa allegedly asked for the mediation of their president, Robert Mugabe, which was immediately taken up and widely reported internationally only to be rapidly denied, by the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, according to the BBC.

06.11.04, Morocco, 29th anniversary of the Green March
Royal Speech
Mohamed VI reaffirms that the question of territorial integrity of Morocco is an "affair of national identity which is one and indivisible" and "an inalienable historic right which suffers no concession". He calls the political parties, the elected Councils and all active forces to "get more effectively involved in the chosen course of arguing for and defending the justice of the cause of our territorial integrity, in the framework of an efficient plan of action, accompanying and completing the efforts deployed by official diplomacy."

07.11.04, SADR, reaction
The Polisario Front strongly denounces "the tone of escalation" expressed by Mohamed VI on the occasion of the "infamous anniversary of the Black March". 'The tone of escalation and the appeal to mobilisation is a dangerous and irresponsible step to make, and the Moroccan government takes full responsibility for the consequences which could arise from it," warns a statement from the Ministry of Information. [SPS]

12.11.04
From an official source it is announced that the Spanish Prime Minister, Zapatero will receive the Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz, on 26 November in Madrid. Zapatero will meet the Polisario leader to discuss the conflict in the Sahara. [
SPS]

ALGERIA

01.11.04, Summit
In an interview the Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs reveals that Spain, France and Morocco invited Algeria to a four-power summit in order to discuss the conflict over the Western Sahara. [see weeks
19/20 and 23/24 2004]. The Minister confirms that Algeria notified the authors of the initiative that the Polisario Front, being the sole legal representative of the Sahrawi people, is the principal party concerned by this summit. Algeria is therefore not concerned by such summits.. [Monday Morning (Beyrout)],

MOROCCO

Basri sticks to his guns
Virulent criticism registered after his "Western Sahara" on Al Jazeera, have not dampened Basri, who, in an interview with the Madrid daily La Razon, affirms that the referendum is the only solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.[
La Razon, 07.11.04] ] [English translation by SPS]
Questioned on Algerian national radio, Driss Basri affirms again that the UN peace plan "is still valid", contrary to the official position of Rabat which has called it obsolete. These remarks give rise to a new storm of disapproval and invective in the Moroccan media, shouting "felony", and "treason" and describing him as "the spokesman of Bouteflika".

The Moroccan press agency champion of misinformation:
An example among others: on 08.11 MAP headlines "The Algerian people are no longer interested in the POLISARIO, according to an Algerian political leader", pointing to an interview given by the Secretary General of RCD, Said Saadi to a Moroccan weekly, La Gazette du Maroc. The next day, the Algerian poltician makes it known that he gave no interview to the Moroccan press...[
Nouvelle République]

SPAIN

09.11.04
The Parliament of the Balearic Islands approved a declaration "in favour of the right to self-determination and independence of the Saharawi people through a free, democratic, transparent and urgent referendum". A Saharawi delegation led by the President of the Saharawi parliament, Ali Beiba attended the session.

HUMAN RIGHTS

10.11.04
The body, Equity and Reconciliation (IER), in charge of sorting out 14,000 cases of abuse from the "leaden years" in Morocco, will proceed to "public hearings" of witnesses and victims of forced disappearance and torture carried out between 1956 and 1999, which will also involve abuses in Western Sahara.

COMING UP...

JORNADA DE COORDINACION de la Dirección de Prevención del Ministerio de Salud de la RASD
18 - 19 de noviembre - Campamentos de refugiados
Programa

16 - 19.12.04 Segunda edición del Festival de Cine del Sáhara, en los campos de refugiados de Tinduf
Los interesados han de contactar con la organización, antes del 30 de noviembre próximo, en el teléfono 915321180, o en el e-mail
festival-2@festivalsahara.com. [Y el cine llegó al desierto, El Mundo, 08.11.04]

5. Sahara Marathon : 28.02.2005
Info:
http://www.saharamarathon.org/
Italy:
http://www.saharawi.org/
Germany:
http://www.tuerlings.de/saharamarathon/main.html

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