WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

Résumé February 2008

01.02. - 29.02.2008

original french

SADR

Diplomatic movements (incomplete list)
The ambassador of the Saharawi Republic in Tanzania and Mauritius, Habiballah Mohamed Kori, has been appointed Director of Protocole to the Presidency, he is replaced by Brahim Salem Ould Bousseif (the former representative in Navarra).
The new Saharawi ambassador in Algiers, Brahim Ghali, is replaced in Madrid by Bouchraya Hamoudi Beyoun, former Prime Minister. Elhaj Ahmed, SADR ambassador in Venezuela, is replaced by Emborik Omar. Louchaa Mohamed, representative in the Canaries, is appointed ambassador to Angola instead of Ahmed Salama, the new representative for Navarra. Seniya Ahmed, the representative in Switzerland is appointed ambassador to Tripoli. Jamal Zerouali, representative in Germany moves to Brussels. Several new representatives for Spanish regions: Abidine Bouchraya for Andalucia, Boulahi Tirsal (formerly in Belgium) for Castilla-La Mancha, Mohamed Moustafá for the Balearic Islands, and Oualad Moussa (former representative in the Balearic Islands) moves to Catalonia. [SPS]

01.02.08, recognition
The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and Malawi have decided to establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level. Malawi recognised SADR on 16.11.1994 but froze its recognition in June 2001. [SPS]

05.02.08, oil
Mhamed Khadad, a member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, presented in Houston, Texas, in the name of SADR, the second round of oil licence bids in the presence of representatives of oil companies and the specialised press. [full statement]

14-17.02.08, Africa
A delegation of the National Union of Saharawi Women took part in Johannesburg in the proceedings of the 9th Congress of the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO), which expressed its support for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and elected the Saharawi organisation to represent African women in the United Nations. [more Span.]

22.02.08, letters
The Saharawi Consultative Council (Council of Notables) demanded, in a message sent to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, the publication of the report of  the HCHR’s mission in 2006 to Western Sahara. Another message was sent to the UN Secretary General. The CC elected a new executive and a new president, Mohamed Mohamed Mouloud Abba Ali,  who succeeds Mbarek Lehbib.
[New bureau of the CC]  [Letter to Ban Ki Moon]  [Letter to UNHCHR]

27.02.08, Tifariti – 32nd anniversary of the proclamation of the Saharawi Republic

The official celebrations took place in Tifariti, in the liberated territories. Some days before, the Algerian president, Bouteflika had sent greetings to his Saharawi counterpart on the occasion of the national day, expressing the “hope that the fourth round of negotiations, planned for Manhasset in March 2008, should permit a political solution to be reached based on the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”. [SPS]

The 8th Sahara Marathon brought together 500 athletes of different nationalities. The Spanish runner Pedro José Hernandez Sanchez won the race.[SPS] This sporting and humanitarian event raised US$22,500 towards the construction of a sports centre in the refugee camps.
[UNHCR report]

The library of the Francophone Cultural Centre in Ausserd, managed by the Saharawi Association for the promotion of cultural exchange, was inaugurated in the presence of numerous French and Saharawi personalities. [SPS]

The new South African Ambassador to SADR, Mzuvukile Maqetuka, presented his credentials in Tifariti,  to the President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz. [SPS]

Investiture of the Saharawi parliament: the President of the Saharawi Republic opened the session of the newly elected Parliament whiich comprises a third women and many young people. 126 candidates stood for the 52 seats to be filled. On this occasion, Abdelaziz declared that the choice of Tifariti as a provisional capital of SADR is a “reaffirmation of our sovereignty over our liberated territories”. The parliament re-elected Mahfoud Ali Beïba as its president.

Inaugurations: The Saharawi president opened a sporting complex, financed by South Africa, comprising a football stadium, a handball and a volley-ball court, a swimming pool, administrative buildings and housing as well as a small dam, the town hall, the seat of the Parliament, a mosque, a hospital, a school and housing for local inhabitants. The Saharawi authorities have allotted land for building for Saharawis living in the refugee camps. Mohamed Abdelaziz also presided over the graduation of 400 students of the military college,
 
Reaction: The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, considers these initiatives as breaking the status quo. He reaffirms “his clear determination to preserve, by every means, their territorial integrity over the whole of the Sahara” and threatens Algeria, who, according to him, is encouraging such developments.

Counter-offensive: On 26.02.08 about a hundred people are said to have defected to Morocco at the border point of Guerguerat, having escaped from the Saharawi refugee camps according to the official Moroccan agency MAP. According to another source, they are Mauritanians and some Saharawis living in Mauritania. This spectacular action was orchestrated by Khalihenna ould Rachid, president of CORCAS, and Hamada ould Darwich, a rich Mauritanian businessman, and former director-general of the Port of Nouadhibou, former-owner of the BACIM Bank, unlucky candidate in the 2006 elections in Bir Moghrein and finally a cousin of Hakim Ibrahim, a former Minister for Foreign Affairs of SADR, whose real name is Ibrahim ould Darwich.

Demonstrations: In the occupied territories leaflets and flags have been distributed in El-Ayoun, Dakhla and Smara, despite the very large police and military deployment trying to stop any gathering. In Smara several demonstrations nevertheless took place in various quarters, dispersed, as usual by the police. Similar demonstrations in Tan Tan and in Moroccan universities have been reported.
 
Abroad
A solidarity meeting was organised in Algiers, with representatives of the National Algerian Committee of Solidarity with the Saharawi people, a parliamentary group, Fraternity Algeria-SADR, the Panafrican Union of Youth and SADR. The 32nd anniversary was celebrated in different ways in many other countries. The autonomous parliament in the Balearic Islands decided on 26.02.08 to set up a coordinating committee to support the resolution of the conflict in Western Sahara, composed of representatives of all the political parties, from the management of the cooperation and cooperation fund in each island, the Polisario Front and solidarity associations. The Basque autonomous parliament unanimously approved a declaration in favour of the exercise of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.
[más]
The government of Grand Canaria unanimously approved an urgent motion in favour of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and the respect of human rights in occupied Western Sahara. Numerous demonstrations, lectures and various ceremonies took place not only in Spain, but also in Venezuela (Caracas), in
Australia (Melbourne) , in Switzerland (Geneva), etc.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Arrests, questionings, intimidations
In Dakhla on 28 January, arrest of Khalihenna Oulad Cheikh Beida and the next day of Mrabih Taleb Bouya, brother of Hassana Taleb Bouya, member of the Committee against Torture of Dakhla.
Three former political detainees and two other Saharawi citizens were questioned on 17 February in El Ayoun, while they were visiting the Saharawi former political prisoner Sidi Mohamed Alouate. On 22 February, Mohamed Ould Salama Ould Hameya and his daughters were attacked by a group of police officers, while they were at home receiving the visit of Najem Ould Mahmoud Ould Hameya and his family, who had come from Tindouf, within the UNHCR family exchange visit scheme.
Members of the Committee of Saharawi officials exiled by force to Morocco met on 7 February outside the Ministry of the Interior in Rabat, demanding to be returned to their places of origin.

Trial in El-Ayoun
Nafai Sah and Mohamed El-Boussati, arrested between 17 June and 7 July 2007 and accused of having burned a police car, were sentenced on 6 February on appeal to one year of prison. Two Spanish barristers and one Swiss one attended the trial.
Mohamed Boutabaa was sentenced on 27 February to one year in prison, accused of having burned the car of a soldier. Two observers attended the trial, Luis Mangrané, a Spanish barrister and Patrick Herzig, a Swiss barrister.

09.02.08, corruption
A large proportion of the people encouraged in 1991-1992 by the Moroccan government to establish themselves in Western Sahara in the camps called Of Unity, in preparation for the referendum, have returned to their former homes. Only 5,000 people still live there, while they numbered 21,000 in 1991. But the absentees still receive food aid from the government and sell them at a profit. The annual amount spent by the government is said to be of the order of 640 million DH. Taking advantage also of this trafficking are high ranking army officers in the FAR, Saharawi notables and Moroccan government officials. The daily Assabah publishes a list of 16 names, as well as the quantities of flour which they have appropriated. [Assabah, 09.02.08, Arabic language Moroccan daily]

14.02.08, El-Ayoun
Destruction of a former interrogation and torture centre in the Colominas quarter, avenue du 24 novembre. In 2007 the authorities proceeded to the destruction of a similar centre in a barracks of the CMI (Compagnies Mobiles d'Intervention) in the  Zoco Viejo quarter.

19.02.08, El-Ayoun
A delegation of trades unionists made up of representatives of the CGT France, CGIL Italy and CCOO Spain travelled to Western Sahara to meet Saharawi workers and retired workers from the phosphate mine of Boucraa and the former Spanish administration. There are over 22,000 Saharawi workers, soldiers, officials etc who worked in the service of Spain during the colonial period and who are claiming their right to a retirement pension.
 
On 19 February, the European delegation met about a hundred workers and retirees in the home of Sidi Ahmed Eddia, to inform them about the efforts undertaken to regularise their situation with their former Spanish employers. This is when the Moroccan police arrested the European trades unionists as well as the representative of the workers and retirees of Fos Bucraa,  Sidi Ahmed Eddia and his wife. [more Fr]
Spain ceded in 1976 the majority interest in the business Fosbucraa (65%) to the Moroccan state. The new coloniser immediately broke the contracts of 721 Saharawi workers. Since 1999 Sidi Ahmed Eddia has tried again and again without any results to take steps with the Spanish and Moroccan authorities.
The three unions implicated, as well as the European MP, Jean-Paul Lecoq, have protested strongly. CSPRON , the Committee of Support for the UN peace plan and for the protection of the natural resources of Western Sahara, wrote to the EU President .

25.02.08, Hunger Strike
The Saharawi political detainees in the Black Prison started an unlimited hunger strike to demand the respect of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and to denounce human rights abuses in Western Sahara. They also express their solidarity with all the Saharawi detainees in Morocco and with Moroccan political detainees, among whom are members of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH). They wrote to the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General, van Walsum in the same vein. The Committee of families of Saharawi political prisoners called for the immediate and unconditional release of Saharawi political prisoners. Three strikers are hospitalised at the moment. [Regular news from ASVDH, FR, ENG, ESP, AR] 

International Campaign for the Release of Brahim Sabbar and all the Saharawi political prisoners

Campagne Internationale pour la libération de Brahim Sabbar et tous les prisonniers politiques sahraouis

Campaña internacional  para  la liberación de Brahim Sabbar y todos los presos  politicos saharauis

26.02.08, landmine
A young Saharawi, Boushab Boutimit (19 years) was killed by the explosion of a mine at Areiridh not far from Zak, where he lived and worked as a nomad. A member of the same family, Fatimetou Boutimit (11 years) was seriously wounded in a landmine explosion last December.

04.03.08, injustice
The Appeal Court reduced to two years the prison sentence of two members of GUS (Urban Security Group, dissolved in 2006), the officer Abderrahim Mestioui [Amssaoued], nicknamed Bahja, and deputy Rouchdi Hassan, sentenced on 20.06.07 to ten years penal internment for the assassination of Hamdi Lembarki, who died on 31.10.05. The court considered “the act of provocation in this affair”. The two policemen, who have been released, enjoyed special conditions in prison, they moved about freely within the Black Prison, had living quarters, a mobile telephone and a computer.
The Association of Families of Saharawi Prisoners and Disappeared (AFAPREDESA) and the Union of Saharawi Lawyers pointed out the desire of the occupying authorities to hide the crimes perpetrated by their forces towards the Saharawi civil population and condemned this new injustice. They demand the re-opening of the procedure for judging those responsible materially and intellectually for the murder of Hamdi Lembarki. [communiqué - comunicado]
The Human Rights Observatory of the lawyers of Badajoz has just received the prize, PREMIO JUSTICIA 2007 <http://derechoshumanos.icaba.es/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=208>http://derechoshumanos.icaba.es/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=208 of the Association of Human Rights of Extremadura, equally strongly condemn this judgment and demand the Moroccan judicial authorities to incarcerate the two killers, setting them free could lead others to assassinate innocent people. [comunicado]
The President of the Saharawi Republic on 9 March sent a letter to the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, in which he expresses his surprise and affirms that “justice in Morocco contributes to ensure cover to crimes and guarantees impunity to the Moroccan repressive apparatus in Western Sahara”. [AFP]

NATURAL RESOURCES

Sand
Several cargo boats, the West Sky, the Guajira, the Trio Vega, under a Panamanian flag, the Seisbulk, the Hannes, have been observed transporting sand from Western Sahara to the Canary Islands. The sand seems to be destined for building. [more]

Phosphates
Norwatch discovered that a maritime transport company, Jinhui Shipping and Transportation Limited, registered on the Oslo Stock Exchange, are carrying out the transport of phosphate from Western Sahara for the New Zealand business Ballance Agri-Nutrients. This concerns a ship, Jin Cheng, registered in Hong Kong, which arrived in Newport New Zealand on 6 February .[Statement by Norwatch]
The cargo ship Dimitris on 10 January 2008 and Maria Oldendorf on 12 February 2008 carried phosphate from Western Sahara destined for the Colombian fertiliser manufacturer Monomeros.
According to Danwatch, the Saharawi government accused the Danish maritime transport company, J. Lauritzen, whose cargo ship carried phosphates, of taking part in the illegal exploitation of the resources of Western Sahara. [Copenhagen Post, 22.02.2008]  [Danwatch, Danish and English]

Oil
The Office national marocain des hydrocarbures et des mines (ONHYM), which at present is analysing data from the 2D seismic survey conducted from 15 September to 26 November 2007, announces on 11.02.08 that complementary studies will be carried out in the Boujdour basin as part of the 2008-2012 Development Plan.

Fishing
Replying to a question of the Swedish parliamentarian, Hans Linde, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt declared on 19.02.08, that it was too late to ask for the annulment of the fishing treaty between the EU and Morocco, but that it was possible to oppose its renewal. On the other hand, the Swedish authorities will investigate the situation of Swedish ships, which are at present fishing in the territorial waters of Western Sahara and which have recently been identified.
[Norwatch] <http://www.wsrw.org/index.php?parse_news=single&cat=105&art=671> [texte original suédois]

REFERENDUM

04.02.08, Security Council
The Security Council met to receive the report of Peter van Walsum, the Personal Envoy of the SG. The president of the Council, Ricardo Alberto Arias ( Panama), welcomed the latest report of the SG and was pleased at the continuation of the negotiations in March.  [Press Release]
The Polisario Front representative at the UN, Ahmed Boukhari, pointed out in a letter to the Security Council, “the lack of progress” in the negotiation process and the continuing blocking manoeuvres of the Moroccan party.  [SPS]
The Moroccan ambassador at the UN, El Mostafa Sahel, declared that “Morocco...reaffirms its disposition to enter into serious and substantial negotiations in order to reach, as quickly as possible, a settlement..., within respect for Morocco’s sovereignty...”

06-14.02.08, Tour of Peter van Walsum in the region
06-08.02.08, Rabat: Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi received the Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for the Sahara. “The meeting took place in a very cordial atmosphere”, van Walsum declared to the press. “We exchanged our points of view on the best ways to make the negotiations more substantial as the UN Secretary General asks”, he added. Contacts took place with representatives of political parties and with CORCAS.
08-10.02.08, SADR: the UN official declared at the end of his meeting with the President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, that “the positions of the parties are still very far apart” and that “there is no new plan for getting out of the impasse”.
11-12.02.08, Algiers: In a press statement, van Walsum noted, after his meetings with the two parties to the conflict, namely Morocco and the Polisario Front, that their positions have not changed and are “still very far apart”. For him, they remain “almost identical to those of two and a half years ago”.
“I have not yet found a solution”, he said to the press. The UN diplomat declared “having the hope” to reach a settlement, but that he did not “want to give false hope and everything would work out in the fourth round” of the talks. The “principal  goal of my tour is to listen to ideas from various people on the way to make the negotiations more substantial”, he declared at the end of his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mourad Medelci. The head of government, Mr. Abdelaziz Belkhadem, also received the Dutch diplomat.
13-14.02.08, Nouakchott: The Mauritanian President, Sidi Mohamed ould Cheikh Abdallahi, received, in Nouakchott, Peter van Walsum on a working visit of two days in Mauritania. In a declaration to the press, as he left this meeting, van Walsum declared that he was “not satisfied with the state of the negotiations”.

19.02.08, Kosovo
The representative of the Polisario Front in Spain, Bouchraya Beyoun, stated in Madrid that “the example of Kosovo demonstrates clearly that at the heart of the international community there is the practice of “double standards” when it is a question of facing up to the independence process and this follows the whim of the interests of the world powers”. Neither Morocco nor Algeria have recognised the former Serbian province.

27.02.08, negotiations
The 4th round of direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front, initially planned for 11 March in Manhasset, was put off until the 16th of the same month, the SADR ambassador to Algeria announced in Algiers, Brahim Ghali. The decision was taken following a request from Morocco.

25-29.02.08, Tour of David Welch in the Maghreb
The US Secretary of State responsible for the Middle East, number three in the department of Foreign Affairs, travelled to three Maghreb countries. As he left his talks with the Cherifian sovereign, the American emissary argued for “strong and positive [relations] between Morocco and Algeria”, despite the “problem of Western Sahara”. In his press statement, Welch added that the autonomy proposal “was what started the rounds of negotiations. We consider that it is a very productive approach and there is reason to examine it”. The deputy US Secretary of State underlined that the United States hopes that “the parties will engage in a constructive manner and in good faith” in the negotiations. In Algiers, on the subject of Western Sahara, the American official emphasised that “any settlement must respect the right of the Saharawi people, including their right to have a say in the solution”. “Beyond that question, we believe that it is important that all the countries of the Maghreb should have good relations between themselves, in particular Algeria and Morocco, who are both good partners of the United States”, he added. [agencies]

MOROCCO

06.02.08 arms
The Dutch company Damen Shipyards Group sold three Sigma war corvettes to Morocco for the sum of 500 million euros, or 1.2 million US$.

11.02.08
Mohamed VI postponed sine die his visit to Mauritania during the second week of February 2008. A Moroccan delegation composed of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Director General of Studies and Documentation (DGED) was received on 5 February by the Mauritanian president.

Manipulations and misinformation
13.02.08: The Moroccan journalist, Ali Lmrabet won his case on appeal against a correspondent of the Maghreb Press Agency (MAP) in Madrid. The Madrid court of appeal gave as reasons that the relationship between MAP and the DGED (Moroccan secret services) was proven. [more Fr + Span]

22.02.08: The daily, Aujourd'hui le Maroc,  publishes a correction of a NATO spokesperson,  who denies an article published on 24.01.08 by the daily under the title “A classified NATO document reveals the responsibility of Algeria in the conflict in the Sahara”. [ALM, 22.02.08] [ALM, 24.01.08]
This was about a falsification by the Moroccan web site, «Polisario Confidentiel» . This site is one of many propaganda sites run by Morocco, which have appeared recently on the web: on this subject see "More information on Moroccan puppet sites"  and other infos on the  blog One hump or two .

22.02.08: The researcher and North African specialist, Hugh Roberts asked for a right of reply to MAP, which had seriously distorted his words in an article on 13 February about a lecture given in Barcelona on the subject “Western Sahara : the costs of the conflict for the development of the Maghreb”. [More]

[See also lthe dossier de Sahara Info 29.02.08: Calomnies et mensonges du makhzen,29.02.08] <http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/message/5823>

HUMAN RIGHTS

19.02.08
The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth, Kim Howells, declared that the United Nations maintain their decision not to publish the report drawn up in 2006 by the High Commission of Human Rights on the human rights situation in Western Sahara. Howells replied to a question by the MP Jeremy Corbyn. (Labour) [Hansard]

HUMANITARIAN AID

Following an appeal launched by the Saharawi Red Crescent, the Algerian RC on 5 February made an emergency donation to the Saharawi refugees of 100 tonnes of rice, 160 tonnes of pasta, 250 tonnes of powdered milk. The Italian ministry of Foreign Affairs also responded on 13 February to the appeal with a donation of 100,000 euros to the WFP.

The food situation of the Saharawi refugees is “still critical”, according to the President of the Saharawi Red Crescent (CRS), questioned by  El Watan. Yahia Bouhebeini explains this situation giving three reasons: the failure to restore the emergency store, which was consumed in October 2006, the failure of WFP to finalise in a definite way the aid program for 2008 – 2009 and the problem of transport for the food aid. According to Bouhebeini, the Saharawi refugees have had no supplies of milk, pasta and rice for several months, and are still waiting for flour. The CRS is engaged in preparing a nutritional survey with NGOs and UN agencies, with finance from ECHO and the Spanish Agency for international cooperation. This study is to begin on 9 March. (27.02.08 El Watan)

SOLIDARITY

16-17.02.08, Eucoco – Algeria
An international meeting on the decolonization of Western Sahara which launched the 2008 International Year of Solidarity with the Saharawi People in its struggle for self-determination, took place in Algiers, organised by the Algerian Committee of Solidarity with the Saharawi People and the Task Force of the European Coordination of Support for the Saharawi People. Pierre Galand, President of the Task Force, gave a lecture to the Political Science Institute in Algiers on “the right of peoples to decide their future for themselves”, which the Algerian Prime Minister attended, as well as many Algerian and Saharawi dignitaries.
Participants in the meeting decided to seize the UN Secretary General and Security Council members in order to act and make Morocco conform with international law. They also called, in their final declaration, on the European Community and the African Union, as well as the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy, to put pressure on Morocco for a “strict application” of the resolutions of the Security Council. A Task Force delegation was received by the former president, Ahmed Ben Bella, who assured his support for the cause of the Saharawi people in their struggle to recover their sovereignty. [SPS, revue de presse Sahara-Info]

COMING UP...

17-23.03.08, COLUMNA DE LOS 1000. «Mil personas uniremos nuestras manos formando una cadena humana frente al muro de la vergüenza, un muro de dos mil kilómetros que separa un territorio y divide un pueblo.» http://voluntadydeterminacion.blog.com/

17-20.04.08, V Sahara International Film Festival: http://www.festivalsahara.com/pdf/Notadeprensa2008.pdf

25-26.04.08, Alger, colloque international de parlementaires sur "l’autodétermination des peuples : facteur de stabilité, de paix et de développement" au siège de l’Assemblée populaire nationale (APN), à l’initiative du Comité de fraternité parlementaire algéro- sahraoui.

INTERNET

ANALYSIS

DOCUMENTS

VIDEO

NOUVEAUX - NEW - NUEVOS  BLOGS

NOUVEAUX - NEW - NUEVOS SITES

OPINIONS: http://opinions.arso.org 

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

Français
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages

English
>> English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages

Castellano
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages
Nuevos libros:


Italiano
Attualità in italiano: El Ouali Bologna: http://www.saharawi.org/saharawi.htm + Radio for Peace http://www.radiokcentrale.it/du.htm

Dansk

Arabe

Deutsch


To receive the Weekly news by e-mail


Click here to subscribe

[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]