DAKAR (Senegal)- Saharawi Foreign Ministers Mohamed Salem Ould Salek said Morocco has once again failed to prevent the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) from taking part in the African Union-United Nations partnership conference, to take place in Dakar.
The Saharawi policy chief told reporters after the postponement of Dakar's meeting that "Morocco has once again failed to prevent the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic from taking part (in an international conference as an AU member) after its failure in Malabo Summit."
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) confirmed Sunday the postponement of the African Union-United Nations partnership conference that was due to be held in Dakar.
The ECA has taken the decision after it received the legal opinion of the African Union Commission, which refutes Morocco's allegations and backs the position of the Saharawi Republic.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa received legal arguments from AU Commission and most African bodies that support the participation of the Saharawi Republic as a full member of the African Union.
NEWY TORK (U.S.A)- The United Nations Security Council included the Western Sahar issue on the agenda of its meeting scheduled for Tuesday, in order to review the implementation of the resolution 2285 relating to, notably, the relaunch of negotiations between the Polisario Front and Morocco, sources told APS on Monday.
The Western Sahara issue will be discussed during this in camera meeting at the request of Uruguay, a non-permanent member of the UN Council, said the source.
It is about addressing the resolution 2285 of 2016, which provides for the commitment of a fifth negotiations round and the return of the MINURSO staff expelled by Morocco.
The meeting takes place before important political deadlines, particularly those concerning the renewing of the MINURSO mandate, and the publishing of the report of the UN Secretary General on Western Sahara, scheduled for April.
It takes place a few days following the visit of the Sahrawi president Brahim Ghali to New York, where he had extensive talks with the UN Chief, Antonio Guterres on the deadlock of the peace process.
PARIS (France)- Members of the task forces of the European Coordination Conference of support and solidarity with the Sahrawi people (EUCOCO) expressed their concern about the situation of Sahrawi political prisoners of the Gdeim Izik group, whose appeal trial opened in Rabat on 13 March.
During a meeting held Saturday, in Paris, the staff attending this task force said they are “concerned about the situation of the Sahrawi political prisoners who are, today, at their 12th day of trial,” said the communiqué sent to APS Sunday, and which underlined their courage and their wish to testify.
The members of the EUCOCO hailed “the presence, at this trial, of Sahrawi, Moroccan and French lawyers and observers, who faced difficult situations and who defend, with talent, the prisoners, calling for their liberation.”
The EUCOCO meeting was hosted by its president Pierre Galand, in the presence of the Sahrawi minister, adviser to the European Union Mohamed Sidati, representatives of the Polisario Front in Europe, delegates from Europe and the president of the Algerian National Committee of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (CNASPS), Said Ayachi.
ALGIERS- Minister of Communication Hamid Grine met Thursday Saharawi Minister of Information Hamada Salma Daf, with whom he discussed bilateral relations and how to boost them in the information field.
The two officials, who met at the headquarters of the Communication ministry, reviewed the joint action strategy between the two ministries, before examining the last developments of Western Sahara issue.
In a statement at the end of the meeting, the Saharawi minister told APS that his visit to Algeria "is part of coordination and cooperation between Saharawi and Algerian institutions."
He stressed that the Algerian ministry of Communication has provided assistance to Western Sahara cause from the outset.
He recalled that the first radio station, "Sawt Essahraa El-horra" (The Voice of Free Sahara), was launched from Algeria.
The Saharawi official expressed the wish to further develop bilateral cooperation, mentioning the agreements concluded between the two countries in the field, some of which are being updated to meet the expectation of the two peoples.
"We have combined efforts for the lift of the blockade imposed on the occupied Western Sahara territories," Salma Daf stressed.
He mentioned the "iniquitous trial against the heroes of the Gdeim Izik epic, through which Moroccan occupation authorities try to legitimate the liquidation of Saharawi human rights activists who claim loud and clear their right to self-determination."
ALGIERS- The ambassador of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic (SADR) to Algeria, Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoune called on the African Union (AU) to invest more in the resolution of the Sahrawi cause, considering that Morocco’s absence from the meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council is “a failure for a first test” following its accession to the African Union.
“The United Nations has still not been able to find a just solution to the Sahrawi conflict, which has been going on for 40 years,” said Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoune in a press conference organized by the Sahrawi Commission on Human rights.
“The Sahrawi authorities are ready to negotiate again with the Moroccan occupier to get the Sahrawi conflict out of the impasse,” he added. A situation which led the Sahrawi leaders to demand an acceleration of Western Sahara’s decolonization process, said the ambassador.
Bayoune said that the UN Security Council is responsible for the Human Rights violations in Western Sahara and the despoilment of its natural resources because of France’s right of veto that prevents any resolution of the conflict in order to protect its own interests and those of Morocco.
According to the ambassador, the Sahrawi authorities consider that the Sahrawi cause is now an “African” rather than a UN one, which requires an increased involvement of the African Union in the resolution of the conflict.
Considering Morocco’s absence from the AU Peace and Security Council, Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoune said that it is a “failure” for its first test following its accession to the Pan-African organization, and that is shows its unavailability to cooperate for the resolution of the conflict out of fear of the pressures that the AU could apply.
ADDIS ABEBA- Saharawi Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek said the absence of Morocco at the meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council (PSC), held Monday in Addis Ababa, did not prevent the AU from maintaining its positions in favour of the settlement of the conflict of Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco since 1975, Saharawi news agency SPS has reported.
"The absence of Morocco at the meeting, which was the first test, did not prevent the African Union from maintaining its constant position in favour of the end of occupation of Western Sahara," Ould Salek, adding that Morocco's policy is contrary to the goals and principles of the AU.
Morocco's "empty chair" policy, since its adherence to the African Union "as the 55th member, has not prevented the Council from taking decisions relating to the Saharawi cause."
The Saharawi FM, who took part to the PSC meeting alongside the other Council's members, said the absence of Morocco at the African meeting shows Rabat's "stubbornness" as it "escapes its commitment to African joint action, beside the United Nations, for a solution to the conflict of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa," SPS said.
AU Peace and Security Council's members said "the absence of Morocco in spite of the official invitation it received to attend the meeting is contrary to the statements of King Mohamed VI, at the last AU summit in January."
In his statements, the King of Morocco expressed his country's intention to cooperate, in a constructive manner, with the African Union to achieve peace, security and stability in Africa."
Morocco had committed to abiding by AU Constitutive Act, by virtue of which it must attend such meetings, alongside the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), to respond to the concerns of the African Union PSC members.
The Peace and Security Council, in addition, strongly condemned Morocco's violations in Western Sahara during the opening of the trial of 25 Saharawi political prisoners (Gdeim Izik group).
PRETORIA (South Africa)- South Africa's ruling party African National Congress (ANC) pledges Sunday to make of 2017 a year of support to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) at the African Union (AU) and to intensify efforts in this respect at both continental and international levels, media reported.
In a document about the party's foreign policy for 2017, which will be presented at the next annual meeting, the ANC stressed that "Western Sahara people's struggle for self-determination and independence will remain one of the party's priorities."
South Africa's ruling party announced the launch of an international campaign to "denounce Morocco's hindrances to the implementation of the resolutions issued by the United Nations and the African Union" in relation to Western Sahara conflict.
The ANC added that "all options are possible, including the isolation of the Moroccan regime."
The African National Congress expressed wish that Morocco's joining of the African Union would "contribute to the intensification of efforts for the decolonization of Western Sahara."
Western Sahara was added in 1966 to the UN list of non-autonomous territories, about which the UN General Assembly issued Resolution 1514 that includes the Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
Western Sahara is the last remaining colony in Africa, as it has been under Moroccan occupation since 1975 with the support of France.
PARIS (France)- Mayor of Saint-Denis (Paris suburb) Laurent Russier on Tuesday expressed "consternation with the lack of fairness in the trial of 24 Saharawi political prisoners of the Gdeim Izik group, which opened Monday in Rabat, Morocco.
"I express my dismay over the lack of fairness in the trial and reiterate my commitment to human rights issues and the right to peoples' self-determination," the French mayor said.
Since Dec 26, Russier said, irregularities have been noticed "casting a serious doubt on the fairness of the trial."
Action by Christians Against Torture (ACAT) group and the delegation of international observers Izquierda Unida (IU) stressed a "failure of procedural safeguards," as "the defence counsel has not been granted full access to the bills of indictment."
The prisoners' lawyer "has not been allowed to speak freely in the courtroom, or get access to the total translation of the proceedings," they deplored.
The defence counsel denounced the fact that the defendants were put in a glass box, at the courtroom, preventing them from hearing the proceedings.
In addition, the prisoners' families were not allowed to get access to the courtroom.
BRUSSELS (Belgium)- The minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra called Monday, in Brussels (Belgium), for the European Union to act concerning the western Sahara issue “in conformity with international law and the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).”
In a statement to the press on the sidelines of the High level meeting of the EU-Algeria Association Council, the minister said that discussions between the two countries were based on the ruling of the CJEU, issued last December, which confirmed that “the Western Sahara territory is distinct and separated from Morocco.”
The Algerian Foreign minister said that from there, “the EU must act in conformity with international law and the CJEU ruling, so long as the Kingdom of Morocco joined the African Union alongside the Sahrawi Republic.”
In this regard, Lamamra said that this “attests to the existence of two sovereign territories and that there is “an international and African law that must be enforced” in order to reach a peaceful solution to this conflict “which has lasted too long and which hindered important programmes, including the building of the Great Arab Maghreb.”
LONDON- International human rights organization, Amnesty International calls for a "fair trial" for the Sahrawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik, held arbitrary by the Moroccan occupation authorities.
The trial of 24 Sahrawis, to take place on 13 March in a civilian court, "is an opportunity to redress the numerous violations that tainted their fundamentally flawed military trial in 2013," said the AI in a statement.
The non-governmental organization called on the Moroccan authorities to ensure the defendants' right to a "fair trial" during the proceedings.
"This includes respect for the presumption of innocence, effective investigations into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in custody, and exclusion of any evidence obtained under duress," said the AI.
The NGO recalled the circumstances of the arrest of these defendants, including human rights and political activists, who were among "many Sahrawis arrested by Moroccan security forces during the forcible dispersal" on 8 November 2010 of a peaceful protest camp in Gdeim Izik near Al-Ayun in occupied Western Sahara.
Amnesty International stated "the excessive use of force by the Moroccan security forces in dispersing the protest camp and conducting arrests."
The NGO recalled that it "has on several occasions called on the Moroccan authorities to investigate human rights violations, which took place during and following the camp dispersal on 8 November 2010, and to ensure that those detained in the context of these incidents are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated."
The AI also opposed the trial of civilians before military courts.
Twenty-one of the 24 defendants were sentenced in 2013 by the military tribunal to heavy prison terms and are still in detention, said the AI.
BRUSSELS (Belgium)- The illegal exploitation of natural resources in western Sahara after the European Union Court of Justice (EUCJ) ruled on the matter has sparked concerns among the members of the EU Parliament (MEPs).
The MEPs called on the European Commission to publish the "consultative guidelines" for the attention of companies about the legal risks of disregarding EUCJ's decision.
In a written question to the European Commission, about twenty Eurodeputies, including Florent Marcellesi, Barbara Lochbihler, Bodil Valero and Max Andersson called on the EU high representative for Foreign Affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, to ask the European Union member states if they have plans to publish the "consultative guidelines" for firms to be aware of the legal risks and the harm to their reputation if they invest in Western Sahara.
The MEPs urged Mogherini to comment on the case of European companies, like Siemens, which conclude public contracts with Morocco, under the Moroccan law, and invest in illegal projects in Western Sahara territory.
The Eurodeputies invited the EU top official to admit that Morocco has no sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara and, as a result, Moroccan national laws cannot be applied in Western Sahara, in line with the decision of the EU Court of Justice.
BIR LEHLU (Liberated Sahrawi territories)- Sahrawi President, Secretary General of Polisario Front Brahim Ghali chaired a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Bir Lehlu on Friday.
The meeting, held on the eve of the 41st anniversary of the formation of the first Sahrawi Government (5 March 1976 in Bir Lehlu) was attended by members of the National Secretariat of Polisario Front, the government and the High Command of the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army.
The meeting addressed the latest developments of the Western Sahara issue as well as the reconstruction of the liberated territories of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
The first Sahrawi government was formed on 5 March 1976 in Bir Lehlu after the proclamation of the Sahrawi Republic, despite the lack of resources and the exodus of thousands of Sahrawis, fleeing Moroccan invasion of their lands.
The first Sahrawi government was chaired by Mohamed Lamin Ould Ahmed.
LONDON-The Polisario Front, only legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people has become a consultative member of the Socialist International association after being an observatory member 2008, representation of the Front in London announced.
"Despite Morocco's attempts to put obstacles to this new status, five of the eight members of the IS ethics committee granted the consultative member status to the Polisario Front, representative of the Polisario to the UK Mohamed Limam Mohamed Ali said.
The IS ethics committee met in Cartagena in Colombia to examine the request made by the Polisario Front on the eve of the 25th Congress of the IS which kicked off Thursday with the participation of a delegation representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), led by Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek.
The IS Committee meets on the eve of each congress to examine accession requests.
The delegate of the Moroccan Socialist Union tried to block the Polisario Front's new status but failed to do so because the IS Council, in charge of examining appeals, considered his request as "incoherent and not based on arguments," stressed Limam.
BRUSSELS- The European Union (EU) should fulfil its commitments regarding humanitarian aid to Sahrawi refugees, said the Euro-MP Enrique Guerrero Salom.
In a written question to the European Commission, the Euro-MP said that the "unprecedented withdrawal" of EU aid to Sahrawi refugees in 2016 has resulted in "a significant gap in basic humanitarian needs in the five camps that host thousands of Sahrawis."
He added that the current situation was due mainly to the "lack of analysis and specific response to humanitarian needs (...) as well as to the drastic cuts in funding and in the number of refugees receiving aid."
According to the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), the European Commission gave €9 million to improve the living conditions of Sahrawi refugees in 2016, against €10 million in the past years.
In this regard, the Euro-MP urged the European Commission to explain this change, especially as it defined the situation of Sahrawi refugees as a "forgotten crisis" because "it receives little funding and attention from the international community."
"Will the Commission explain why, when many of the elements of the Sahrawi crisis remain unchanged, it has gone from being considered a severe forgotten in 2011, the only one of its kind in 2014, down to seventh in the list of forgotten crises in 2016?," he wondered.
The EU considers itself as one of the leading donors to Sahrawi refugees, "from 1993 to 1916, the European Commission provided €222 million in humanitarian aid," said the ECHO.
NEW YORK- The Guerguerat crisis can resurface at any time in Western Sahara in the absence of a peace process that paves the way towards the final settlement of the Sahrawi issue, said Wednesday Polisario Front representative to UN Ahmed Boukhari.
"We believe that in the absence of a serious peace process as called for in the latest Security Council resolution, the Guerguerat episode can be repeated at any time," Boukhari told APS.
The Polisario delegate said that Guerguerat (crisis) is only a part of the real problem which the blocking of UN process by Morocco.
"The (real) problem is not Guerguerat, but it is the absence of a peace process that Morocco has undermined," he insisted.
NEW YORK (United Nations)- The UN peacekeeping operation department has expressed concerns over the MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) personnel expelled by Morocco, noting that such an obstruction will affect the work of the UN mission.
In a letter sent to Dimitri Samars, chairman of the United Nations International Civil Servants Federation (UNISERV), the head of the department, Herve Ladsous, said no solution allowing the return of MINURSO personnel expelled by Morocco has been reached yet.
Herve Ladsous added in the letter, published by US media outlets in New York, that despite the UN efforts, MINURSO personnel have not been allowed to resume their work in the occupied Western Sahara territories.
PARIS- The French Association of Friends of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic said Monday in Paris "41 years of struggle, exile and determination (...) it's too long" for the Sahrawi people, who are waiting to exercise their right to self-determination.
"Forty-one years of struggle, exile and determination to exercise their (Sahrawi people) right to self-determination and independence, it's too long," said the Association on the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the SADR Proclamation.
"This long period of struggle shows the courage and commitment of the people and their leaders to achieve their independence, whatever the sacrifices," said the NGO.
Since the proclamation of the Sahrawi Republic in exile on 27 February 1976, the Association has continuously supported, in France, the struggle of Sahrawi people and their legitimate representative, Polisario Front, added the NGO.
"SADR seeks to build institutions and a democratic State to allow access to the same rights, education, health and food for all," said the Association.
SMARA (Saharawi Refugee Camps)- The Saharawi State, 41 years after the proclamation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), has made big steps in its building and the creation of its political, security and administrative institutions, making of the Polisario Front, the nucleus of the State, an enlightening model among the liberation movements worldwide.
Since 27 February 1976, the date of the proclamation of the SADR and the formation of the first Saharawi government (5 March 1976 in Bir Lahlou, under the presidency of Mohamed Lamine Ould Ahmed), the Saharawi Sate has been making to build and boost its institutions, in prelude to the stage of independence.
The former UN secretary general's visit to Bir Lahlou, in the Saharawi territories liberated in March 2016, and which coincided with the anniversary of the installation of the first SADR government, showed the level of international recognition of the SADR as a State that deserves respect and consideration.
This recognition is the result of Saharawi State's historical commitments in spite of Morocco's policy based on manoeuvring and threats, which are intended for concealing the truth and shirking responsibility.
On the political level, the Polisario Front, as the nucleus of the Saharawi State and the only legitimate representative of Western Sahara people, did not rejected the peaceful options in their struggle for independence, aware of the geostrategic challenges facing the region and the world.
The Saharawi people have adopted such options to show the international community the pertinence of the decisions taken within the Saharawi State institutions.
The SADR, through its choices and decisions, has managed to foil Moroccan occupation's media campaign aiming at smearing the reputation of Saharawi institutions.
SHAHID EL-HAFED (Sahrawi refugee camps)- A Cuban delegation, led by Cuba's Ambassador to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Raul Barzaga Navas, started Saturday a working visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps.
The visit aims at "conveying a message of solidarity from Cuba's President Raul Castro Ruz to his Sahrawi counterpart, Brahim Ghali with a view to strengthening the existing ties of friendship and cooperation between the Sahrawi Republic and Cuba," said Sunday the Sahrawi news agency SPS.
The Cuban delegation was received at the headquarters of the Sahrawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Secretary General of the Ministry, Hamdi Bueha, said the source.
The discussions focused on the strengthening of the longstanding relations between the two countries, added the source.
It was also an opportunity for the two sides to discuss other issues of common interest, said the source.
Hamdi Bueha expressed on behalf of the government and the people of Western Sahara, "gratitude to the people and the government of Cuba for the strong and coherent position of Cuba and its support to the Sahrawi people in all fields."
Cuba recognized SADR on 22 January 1980 and since then, the two countries have developed diplomatic relations at the level of ambassadors.
CHAHID EL-HAFED (Saharawi Refugee Camps)- National Secretariat of the Polisario Front has expressed Saharawi side's wish to cooperate with the new secretary general of the United States, Antonio Guterres, for the completion of decolonization in Western Sahara, to restore peace and stability in the region.
The national secretariat bureau, met Saturday, urged the international community to "urgently intervene to save peace efforts in Western Sahara, threatened by Morocco's repetitive provocations, including the violation of the first ceasefire agreement in 1991 between the Polisario Front and Morocco concluded under the aegis of the United Nations," according to the Saharawi news agency SPS.
"This situation can only be resolved through a full respect of the requirements of the UN-OUA (Organization of African Unity, African Union now) settlement plan, the Polisario Front leading member said.
The Polisario official called for "the holding of a referendum on self-determination allowing Saharawi people to decide on their future without any military or political constraint."
"It is Morocco which has violated its commitments towards the UN-sponsored negotiation process and rejected, on several occasions, the visit by UN Chief's special envoy, and refused the implementation of Resolution 2285 of the Security Council, calling for appellant the civilian and political staff of the MINURSO and the organization of a fifth round of negotiations," national office said.