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The Council of Government observed with regret that the said report and the ferocious campaign that accompanied it contradicted the efforts deployed by both Algeria and Morocco for strengthening trust and mutual trust for the benefit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between the two Algerian and Moroccan brotherly peoples, and the process of building the Arab Maghreb Union.

Nizkor Int. Human Rights Team - Derechos Human Rights - Serpaj Europe
Information - vi) messages - 26Feb02


Text of report by Algerian TV on 25 February.

After having discussed all the topics of its agenda, the Council of
Government examined the content of the statement issued by the
government of the Moroccan kingdom on 21 February, following the
publication of the UN secretary-general's report on WesternSahara.

The Council of Government observed with regret that the said report and
the ferocious campaign that accompanied it contradicted the efforts
deployed by both Algeria and Morocco for strengthening trust and mutual
trust for the benefit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between
the two Algerian and Moroccan brotherly peoples, and the process of
building the Arab Maghreb Union.

The Council of Government sees the Moroccan government's statement as a
fresh attempt at misleading the Maghreb, African and international
public opinions over the real facts of the Western Saharan conflict.
Thus, it [the Council of Government] puts the facts straight:

1. The efforts that have been deployed by the international community
for over two decades to convince the Moroccan kingdom and the Polisario
Front to agree over the ways and means of implementing in WesternSahara
the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination consecrated by
the UN Charter insist on not resorting once again to manoeuvres that
would erect obstacles and make attempts at hiding the truth about the
problem of decolonization or present it as if it is a bilateral conflict
with Algeria.

2. On the basis of having observed the same position with regards to
several other peoples throughout the world, Algeria has effectively
defended and still defends loud and clear the right of the Saharan
people to self-determination. It [Algeria] is proud of this commitment
born out of its faithfulness to its history. It also thinks that the
right of colonized peoples to self-determination and independence has
been implemented in all the regions of the world at the exception of
WesternSahara. The latest example has been [East] Timor. Algeria
strongly believes that WesternSahara's rightful goal will sooner or
later be attained and that the history of decolonization is the best
witness for such a process.

3. The path leading to the people of WesternSahara to enjoy their right
to self-determination has already been defined by the UN on the basis of
fulfilling its responsibility towards the colonized countries and
peoples. The UN mission for the self-determination referendum in
WesternSahara [Minurso] was established in 1991 for this purpose. The
negotiations between the two sides under the aegis of Mr James Baker,
held in 1997, concluded with the Moroccan kingdom and the Polisario
Front accepting officially the Houston Agreement which defined the
measures on holding a free and fair referendum of self-determination for
the Western Saharan people by and under the supervision of the UN.

The UN knows very well the causes and the responsibilities lying behind
the freezing of the referendum whose date had been announced repeatedly.
The latest report by the organization [the UN] has revealed that the
Moroccan kingdom has even rejected the implementation of the Houston
Agreement whose validity has been confirmed by the UN Security Council.

4. Algeria, which is still naturally committed to the right of the
Western Saharan people to self-determination in full freedom, has always
been opposed and still opposes with full clarity the so-called Framework
Agreement project, because it constitutes an attempt at consecrating a
fait accompli based on unrighteful claim of the Moroccan kingdom to
WesternSahara. The fact here concerns a territory not enjoying self-rule
and over which the colonial power [Morocco] has no right of claim.

The ruling issued on 29 January 2002 by the UN legal advisor confirmed
this state of affairs when it stated that the [Tripartite] Madrid
Agreement [November 1975] did not transfer sovereignty over
WesternSahara to any of its signatories. Nor did it grant any of them
administrative powers as Spain had no right to grant such powers

5. Algeria shares the Moroccan kingdom's hopes that the international
community and the UN Security Council, in particular, succeed in foiling
all attempts at maintaining the status quo at the expense of those who
seek to end it. This goal which has taken so long to materialize, is in
reality within the reach of the international community and the Arab
Maghreb in particular. This can be achieved if the two parties to the
conflict in WesternSahara finally decide together to open the way to the
UN to implement in full sovereignty the peace plan agreed upon entirely
at Houston in 1997. This goal would be within the easy reach of the
international community and the Arab Maghreb, in particular, if the two
parties to the conflict agree, as suggested by the UN
secretary-general's report, that the UN Security Council uses enough
power at its disposal for the implementation of a free and fair
referendum of self-determination for the Western Saharan people,
especially, if the two parties accept - as the international community
has been demanding - the results of the poll.

In addition to all this, another opportunity to move away from the
current state of affairs in WesternSahara has been offered for a while
by the UN Security Council. At the same time, the personal
representative of the UN secretary-general also called for the
implementation of the peace agreement. The Security Council charged him
with the task of finding a political solution in the shape of an
agreement between the two parties to the conflict.

As it happened, Morocco has taken time to announce its political
intentions for the Western Saharan people to finally enjoy its
legitimate right to self-determination in full freedom, and for the
international legitimacy to find its place in WesternSahara at last. For
also security and stability to be strengthened for the common interest
of the Maghreb peoples.

As for Algeria, it believes that the continuation of the current state
of affairs in WesternSahara constitutes an obstacle to constructive
cooperation between the Maghreb peoples whose history and destiny bear

It [Algeria] continues and will continue to give full support to the UN
secretary-general and his personal representative, praising his efforts
to accomplish the decolonization process in WesternSahara.

This is the end of the communique by the Council of Government.
Service/ RTM TV, Rabat, 24 Feb 02. By way of the Norwegian Support
Committee for Western Sahara]


ABIDJAN, 25 February (IRIN) - The International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) has reiterated a call for the release of all persons
detained in connection with the 27-year conflict between Morocco and the
Polisario Front over the future of Western Sahara.

The call followed visits by the ICRC to the families of some of the
1,362 Moroccans detained by the Polisario Front (Popular Front for the
Liberation of Sagui el-hamra and Rio de Oro), the committee reported in
its latest update on the conflict.

ICRC visited 396 families between 3 and 14 February, giving them news of
their detained relatives, and collecting photos and letters to take to
the prisoners, the ICRC said. The conflict has led to "countless of
children who have grown up without a father, wives who are still waiting
for their husbands to return, mothers whose only wish is to see their
son one last time", ICRC said. It expressed concern about the
"increasing poor physical and mental health of the 1,362 prisoners, 916
of whom were captured over 20 years ago" and called for their release.

The Polisario Front freed 115 of its prisoners in January. Morocco says
it has no prisoners of war, but the Polisario contends that it does, a
humanitarian source told IRIN.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, soon after Spain withdrew from
it. The Polisario Front then launched its struggle for the independence
of the former Spanish territory.

Following a cease-fire agreement between Morocco and the Polisario
Front, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO),
was deployed in September 1991 to monitor the cease-fire and organise a
referendum to allow the territory's people to decide its future status.
The holding of the referendum has been stalled by lack of agreement
between the two parties on various issues, including the question of who
is eligible to vote.

MINURSO's current mandate expires on Thursday and, in his latest report
on Western Sahara to the UN Security Council, published last week, UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan requested its extension to 30 April.

He also said its withdrawal was one of four future options. Another was
that the UN resumes trying to implement a 1988 settlement plan, even
without the agreement of the two parties. A third option would entail
the revision by Annan's Personal Envoy, James Baker III, of a more
recent draft framework agreement, again without the two parties'
agreement if necessary. The Polisario Front had rejected that agreement.
The fourth option would involve discussing the possible division of the
territory with the interested parties.

The Security Council is scheduled to hold talks on Western Sahara on
the UN might have to consider withdrawing from the area as one of its
options. The other three options he presented for Western Sahara were,
the referendum of self-determination, limited autonomy for the territory
within Morocco, or partition of the territory between Morocco and the
Saharawi, led by Polisario. The Security Council is due to vote on
Wednesday or Thursday this week to approve a further 2 month extension
to the mandate of MINURSO, the UN mission in Western Sahara.

Recent legal rulings confirm that the UN and International Court of
Justice do not recognise Morocco's annexation of the territory in 1975
(amid political confusion in Spain after the death of Franco), and this
leaves Spain, as the former colonial power, legally responsible for the
territory. Morocco also receives substantial EU aid. TotalFinaElf, a
French company has recently signed an offshore oil exploration contract
with Morocco on the coast of Western Sahara. Thus the EU has
considerable involvement and leverage with Morocco and the WSC UK would
like to see cooperation with the referendum process become a condition
of continued aid and investment. The UN Bureau of Legal Affairs has
recently ruled that any exploitation of these oil resources without the
consent of the Saharawi people would be illegal.

"This reminds us that Morocco's claim has no standing in international
law. Spain is still technically the administering power", said Mark
Luetchford, Chair of the Western Sahara Campaign. "As current president
of the EU it has a historic opportunity to lead Europe towards a speedy
solution of this conflict which has gone on far too long. Clear and
positive leadership in the EU from the former colonial power could be
the very thing that is needed to end the stalemate in the process
leading to a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people."
WesternSahara" and calling on the UN and the Security Council to "assume
their responsibilities in full towards the Saharan people". The
following is the text of report broadcast by Algerian radio on 21

Following the publication of the report which UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan had submitted to the UN Security Council on the situation in
WesternSahara in which he clearly considered Morocco responsible for
obstructing the implementation of the UN settlement plan, Algeria has,
through its permanent representative at the UN, expressed its position
regarding the four options mentioned in Kofi Annan's report. We review
the details with Ahmed Chermati:

[Chermati - recording] Algeria's ambassador and permanent representative
at the UN, Mr Abdallah Baali, delivered today a letter to the Security
Council president which included Algeria's position regarding the UN
secretary-general's report on the situation in WesternSahara. Mr Baali
also addressed a similar letter to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

After expressing Algeria's appreciation and gratitude to the
secretary-general and to his personal envoy, Mr James Baker, for their
relentless efforts to reach a just and permanent settlement to the
Western Saharan issue and for the realism, far-sightedness and
objectivity which characterized them while drawing up the report and its
conclusions. The letter pointed out that Algeria believed that following
the legal opinion issued on 29 January last, which clearly mentioned and
stressed that the Kingdom of Morocco was illegally occupying
WesternSahara, Morocco could not therefore aspire for any legitimacy or
international recognition, an admission that it was an occupying force.

The secretary-general's report then mentions in paragraph 48 that if the
implementation of the settlement plan, agreed by the two sides - the
Kingdom of Morocco and WesternSahara, and endorsed by the UN Security
Council and the General Assembly - became impossible and faced obstacles
in the future, this was attributed to the fact the Morocco did not show
readiness to go ahead with the settlement plan.

The letter adds: Algeria, which has noted the four options included in
the report, wants to explain its position to the UN Security Council
members regarding the options mentioned by of the secretary-general and
his personal envoy. The letter said: Regarding the first option, it is
certain that it enjoys Algeria's support, which has always offered its
total backing for the implementation of the UN settlement plan out of
its conviction that the organization of a free and neutral
self-determination referendum constitutes a just and more appropriate
way for allowing the Saharan people to determine their future freely.

Algeria also considers that the settlement plan can be implemented and
that the decolonization process in WesternSahara can be achieved
provided that the UN demonstrates the necessary determination. In this
respect, the suggestion of the UN secretary-general and his personal
envoy that it was not necessary to obtain the approval of the two sides
had allowed one side, identified by the secretary-general, to postpone
the self-determination referendum for more than 10 years. This could
allow a harmonious and compatible implementation of the plan.

The letter, which Mr Abdallah Baali delivered today to the Security
Council president, pointed out that Algeria had on numerous occasions
officially expressed it opposition to the framework agreement, saying
that the reformulated draft, as referred to in the secretary-general's
report, went back to the Berlin meeting when the Moroccan delegation
proposed a permanent and final solution which took into account the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Moroccan territories, which
constituted a programmed integration of the Kingdom of Morocco.

While Algeria reiterates its basic opposition to this framework
agreement, irrespective of the degree of independence it was offering to
the people of the region, it conceals an inescapable fact that the
Western Saharan issue is a decolonization one.

Regarding the third option which aims at finding a final solution to the
Western Saharan issue based on the principle of fairness and justice,
the letter said that Algeria - out of its interest to continue its
contributions in full to the private envoy's efforts - would like to
reiterate that it remains ready to study every proposal for a political
solution which completely guarantees the national legitimate interests
of the Saharan people.

The letter added: Regarding the fourth option, Algeria which strongly
calls for a just and final settlement to the Western Saharan issue,
which allows the fraternal Moroccan and Saharan peoples to live in
peace, stability and concord, considers that the UN should intervene
decisively in favour of a just and final settlement of the Western
Saharan issue.

The letter pointed out that Algeria, in its capacity as an observer
country of the process of implementing the settlement plan and a
neighbouring country, will continue to support unreservedly the efforts
of the secretary-general and his private envoy to reach a just and
permanent solution which conforms with international legality of the
Western Saharan issue.

Algeria calls on the UN and the Security Council to assume their
responsibilities in full towards the Saharan people, as stipulated in
the UN Charter.
Polisario Front seeking independence in the area. He said the partition
proposal aimed to create "a micro-state which will
be under the protection of Algeria".

"(Algeria) covets an access to the Atlantic Ocean," he said. Morocco
occupied the sparsely populated Western Sahara after Spain, the former
colonial power, withdrew in 1975. Some 200,000 Saharawi fled into exile,
many of them still in camps in Algeria, while the Polisario Front
independence movement fought a guerrilla war which ended in a 1991
ceasefire. Morocco claims and controls most of the territory, which has
a 1,500-km (945-mile) Atlantic coastline.

Frustrated by the lack of progress in trying to resolve the dispute,
Annan in a report to the Security Council on Tuesday outlined four
options, including withdrawing the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the
area. The three other options included the U.N. Security Council
imposing terms for a referendum on the North African desert territory,
imposing a plan to make the territory a semi-autonomous part of Morocco
or pulling the United Nations out of the seemingly intractable dispute.
Bennouna said the partition option was made by Bouteflika during a
meeting in Houston with former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, who
has spent the last five years as a special U.N. envoy trying to solve
the dispute. The London-based Arabic language newspaper Asharq Al Awsat
quoted in its Wednesday edition a spokesman of the Algerian delegation
in the United Nations as saying "Algeria will never accept a partition
of the Western Sahara". "What we have proposed was to put (the
territory) under U.N. administration and go ahead with the peace and
referendum process," the spokesman was quoted as saying.
- List of Saharawi disappeared persons since 1975
- Report of the UN Office of Legal Affairs on the legality of the
Oil-contracts signed by Morocco over the natural resources of Western
Sahara. Jan 29, 2002.
- UN Documents on Western Sahara
- International Committee of the Red Cross activities in Western Sahara.

- Le rapport de l'ambassadeur Frank Ruddy, 25ene95 [FRA/FRE]

This Information is edited and disseminated by Nizkor International
Human Rights Team.
Nizkor is a member of the Peace and Justice Service-Europe (Serpaj),
Derechos Human Rights (USA) and GILC (Global Internet Liberty Campaign).

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