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Morocco stresses need to give fresh momentum to negotiations on Sahara November 10, 2010

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Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri has said the Moroccan delegation stressed, during the third informal talks on the Sahara, which ended on Tuesday evening in the outskirts of New York, the need to give “fresh momentum to negotiations based on a new methodology to overcome the status quo.

“We cannot remain in the same framework nor in the same conditions. Hence the need to give fresh momentum to these negotiations,” the minister said following the meeting.

Fassi Fihri noted that the Moroccan delegation made a proposal in this regard, which was accepted by the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Christopher Ross.

“We look forward to the Personal Envoy’s practical proposals to continue the negotiations based on a new methodology,” he said.

The minister renewed the kingdom’s readiness to continue negotiations, noting that the parties agreed to hold a new meeting on December and another early next year.

“Morocco remains ready and open” to these negotiations on the basis of the Security Council’s parameters and, in particular, on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy initiative, welcomed by the international community as serious and credible.

The Security Council, he recalled, has consistently highlighted the efforts made by Morocco since 2006 through this proposal.

He deplored the fact that while Morocco presented this constructive proposal, the other parties keep sticking to obsolete plans.

“The mechanism of referendum with multiple options is outdated, and self-determination does not necessarily go through this mechanism which is rarely used in the UN practice.”

Holding on to this outdated option reflects will “not to move forward nor to respond to the international community’s call for a solution based on compromise and realism,” he said.

Fassi Fihri also deplored the fact that since Morocco presented its autonomy initiative, the other parties keep exploiting, for tactical and strategic reasons, some fabricated incidents and situations, with the sole aim of evading their responsibilities and hinder the negotiating process


Law enforcement officers arrest individuals threatening dwellers of Gdim Izik camp eastern Laayun November 10, 2010

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Law enforcement officers, including the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxilary Forces, arrested, on Monday morning, under the supervision of judiciary authorities and in accordance with legal regulations in force, individuals threatening the dwellers of the Gdim Izik camp, east of the city of Laayun.

A statement by the Interior Ministry said the arrested people include ex-convicts, individuals wanted for common law crimes, and opportunistic elements who are in no way related to the social demands, but exploit them for political ends according to a well-defined agenda. 

These people did not attach importance to the results of the dialogue conducted for two weeks by public authorities regarding the social demands, distorted its content and threatened and abused, physically and psychologically, the camps’ residents, especially women, children and the aged, to dissuade them from leaving the camp or taking down their tents.

This comes at a time when social demands are still being examined, by committees made up of public authorities, Sheikhs, elected members and civil society representatives, to meet them in conformity with the principles of merit and equity, the statement added.

Public authorities resorted to all means to lay the bases for a serious and responsible dialogue and had to carry out this operation, which lasted less than an hour and enabled to completely dismantle the camp, to preserve public order and ensure citizens’ safety against these individuals who broke the law, the statement added.

The arrested people will be brought before justice after the investigation’s conclusion, it said.

Christopher Ross describes as ‘useful’ talks in Morocco October 26, 2010

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His Majesty the King receives Christopher Ross

Christopher Ross, UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara described as “useful” the talks he held on Sunday and Monday in Rabat.

In a statement to the press, Ross thanked HM King Mohammed VI for the audience the sovereign granted him on Monday at the Casablanca royal palace. 

He also thanked the Foreign and Interior ministers “for the useful meetings we had yesterday and today in Rabat.”

“My visit to Morocco is part of my fourth tour of the region within the framework of the mission I was assigned by the UNSG,” Ross said, noting that this tour is meant to prepare for the third informal meeting slated in November.

“This meeting will be held between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front in the presence of two neighboring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, to reach a just, lasting and agreed political settlement between the two parties, securing for the Western Sahara’s people the right to self-determination, with the support of the countries of the region, notably the two neighboring countries,” he added.

In this regard, Ross underlined that “the officials expressed, during the four legs of the tour (Algiers, Tindouf region, Nouakchott and the Kingdom of Morocco) their full readiness to back my efforts and those of the UN in general.”

He said that the talks in Morocco “touched on the political situation of the whole region.”

“We have also discussed the need to overcome the current situation, the methods of the negotiation process and the procedure of management of trust-building measures,” he said.

The UN official added that the talks turned also on “the pressing need to ease the prevailing tension and avoid all that could spoil the climate or hinder progress at the upcoming round of negotiations which, I hope, will enable to open the way for tangible steps towards the expected settlement.”

His Majesty the King receives Christopher Ross October 26, 2010

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HM King Mohammed VI received, on Monday at the Casablanca Royal Palace, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara Christopher Ross.

The Sovereign welcomed this visit of the Personal Envoy to the region for appropriate preparations for the third round of negotiations under the auspices of Ross, due next week in the United States of America.

In this connection, HM the King recalled the terms of the Security Council resolution, which calls for creating an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations, without any attempts at exploitation or diversion.

The sovereign reiterated the Kingdom’s full and sincere readiness to back the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General and the Personal Envoy aimed at strictly implementing the Security Council resolutions, adopted after Morocco presented its “autonomy initiative” which pertinently enjoys the realism and the spirit of compromise urged by the international community.

Moreover, these efforts made by the Kingdom, through this bold, substantive initiative, are consistent with the charter of the United Nations and with the guidelines set in the Security Council resolutions, including the principle of self-determination, bearing in mind that a multiple-option referendum mechanism, which is rare in the UN practices, is totally dismissed.

HM the King stressed the need to overcome the status quo, by showing a sincere political will by all the parties to this regional conflict in accordance with the parameters of the Security Council resolutions, reunion requirements for families separated for decades and the requirements of an integrated, prosperous and stable Maghreb.

European Parliament ‘officially’ questions Algeria on Ould Sidi Mouloud’s situation October 19, 2010

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 European Parliament 'officially' questions Algeria on Ould Sidi Mouloud's situation

Brussels – President of the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries to the European Parliament, Pier Antonio Panzeri, “officially” questioned Algeria on the situation of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, the European Parliament said on Monday.

“I officially raise the case of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud,” Panzeri has recently said in Brussels addressing the delegation of the Algerian Parliament who took part in the 10th Interparliamentary Meeting “European Parliament-Algerian Parliament,” the same source added.

The European official’s questioning had visibly disrupted and made the Algerian delegation uncomfortable, it said.

Ould Sidi Mouloud had publicly said, following a visit to his father in Smara, that he “supports the opening of a dialogue on the autonomy plan proposed by the Kingdom of Morocco as a way out of the current situation of conflict over the Sahara,” Panzeri recalled.

“These statements have caused problems for him. That person is missing and accused of treason simply for expressing an opinion,” the European official exclaimed indignantly.

The same source said that Panzeri called on the members of the Algerian delegation in their capacity as MPs to intervene to end the humanitarian unacceptable situation of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud.

“We urge you to take steps so that this problem is resolved and show us your willingness to cooperate with us,” Panzeri concluded, after a joint meeting between the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries and the Algerian parliamentary delegation on the EU-Algeria cooperation, “political dialogue and human rights.”

UN 4th Committee adopts draft resolution supporting negotiations process over the Sahara October 12, 2010

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 UN 4th Committee adopts draft resolution supporting negotiations process over the Sahara

New York – The 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted, on Monday, a draft resolution supporting the process of negotiations over the Sahara and “calling upon all the parties and the States of the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy and with each other.”

The General Assembly “supports the process of negotiations initiated by Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) and further sustained by Council resolutions 1783 (2007),1813 (2008), 1871 (2009) and 1920 (2010) with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution,” the document underlines.

By virtue of this resolution, which is expected to be definitively endorsed in the upcoming plenary session of the General Assembly, the member states took note of “the efforts and developments since 2006,” referring to the momentum added by Morocco’s autonomy initiative for the Sahara, which aims to end the regional dispute.

They welcomed “the commitment of the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions.”

The General Assembly expressed “satisfaction at the holding of two informal meetings convened by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General on 10 and 11 August 2009 in Dürnstein, Austria, and from 9 to 11 February 2010 in Westchester, New York State, United States of America, to prepare for the fifth round of negotiations.”

Reaffirming the content of last year’s resolutions, including the UN Security resolutions, the fourth committee reiterates its support to the process of negotiations in which Morocco’s autonomy initiative has a central place.

US Senators Appeal to Sec. Clinton for Assurance on Safety of Police Chief Arrested by Polisario for Speaking Out to End Sahara Conflict October 5, 2010

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US Senators Appeal to Sec. Clinton for Assurance on Safety of Police Chief Arrested by Polisario for Speaking Out to End Sahara Conflict

Washington, DC (October 4, 2010)—US Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and George LeMieux (R-FL) wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, joining other Congress members and a growing outcry from international human rights advocates seeking action and assurance for the safety and whereabouts of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud. The Polisario Front accused the Sahrawi police chief of “treason” and “espionage” and arrested him Sept. 21 in Algeria as he tried to rejoin his wife and children in the Tindouf refugee camps.  Sidi Mouloud had vowed to speak out to other Sahrawis in favor of Morocco’s compromise autonomy plan to reunite Sahrawi families and end the decades-long Western Sahara conflict.

“This letter is to express my concern for the safety of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, the Inspector General of the Polisario Front’s police,” Senators Gregg and LeMieux each wrote to Sec. Clinton. “Your assistance in obtaining information on Mr. Sidi Mouloud’s whereabouts and circumstances is greatly appreciated.” Gregg is Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and LeMieux is a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Senators’ letters note that Sidi Mouloud was in Morocco on a recent trip sponsored by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). After seeing the progress in W. Sahara, which he was visiting for the first time in 31 years, Sidi Mouloud vowed to return to the refugee camps and voice his support for Morocco’s compromise autonomy plan to end the 35-year W. Sahara dispute. The letters point to the growing outcry from international human rights advocates criticizing Sidi Mouloud’s arrest—including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Leadership Council for Human Rights, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Sidi Mouloud’s father and brother are travelling to the US this week from southern Morocco to speak to the United Nations and urge the international community to support their efforts to free Sidi Mouloud. They will address the UN 4th Committee on Tuesday in New York City and hand deliver letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and international human rights groups. Sidi Mouloud’s father, Sheikh Salma Mouloud, is a leader of the Rguibat tribe, the largest Sahrawi tribe in W. Sahara.  The father and brother both live in Smara, in southern Morocco, where Sidi Mouloud was kidnapped as a young boy by Polisario raiders who killed four other family members and injured his father.

Member of the European Parliament: Autonomy initiative to reinforce regional security, southern provinces development October 4, 2010

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Laayoune – Morocco’s autonomy initiative will contribute to regional security and reinforce development in the southern provinces, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Gilles Pargneaux said on Sunday.

Member of the European Parliament: Autonomy initiative to reinforce regional security, southern provinces development

Speaking to the press after a meeting between a French delegation and Governor of the Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia-El Hamra region, the European MP reiterated support for Morocco’s initiative to find a lasting settlement to the Sahara issue.

He said the current visit is an opportunity for the French delegation to enquire about the projects carried out in the region in fields, including health, renewable energy and tourism.

It is also an opportunity “for us to see that the EU-Moroccan fisheries partnership is being implemented in accordance with the signed agreement between the two parties”, he added.

During the meeting, light was shed on the development projects launched in the Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia-El Hamra region.

The French delegation was also briefed on the hostile stands by Algeria regarding Morocco’s territorial integrity, and the efforts led by the Kingdom to find a lasting solution to the artificial dispute, on the basis of the autonomy initiative under Moroccan sovereignty.

Morocco’s policy to fight poverty within the framework of the National Initiative for Human Development was also raised, along with the training programmes aiming to integrate in the socio-economic life the persons who joined their Motherland after long years of torture in Tindouf camps.

In this respect, special attention was given to the tragic situation endured by the population held against their will in Tindouf camps, and the use of human rights issues for propaganda aims by the adversaries of Morocco’s territorial integrity, in addition to the persisting human rights violations in the camps, as evidenced by the kidnapping by polisario militiamen of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud.

France closely follows situation of Ould Sidi Mouloud, French Foreign Ministry September 30, 2010

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Paris – France closely follows the situation of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, kidnapped by the polisario in Tindouf upon his return from Morocco, where he voiced support for the Kingdom’s autonomy initiative to settle the Sahara issue, Spokesperson for the French foreign Ministry Bernard Valero said on Wednesday.

“We pay close attention to the situation of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud”, Valero said in the first official reaction by the French government to this human rights breach which was vigorously denounced by Morocco.

The Kingdom had called on the UN and the EU to intercede with Algerian authorities in order to secure the release of Ould Mouloud.

Morocco also urged the UN Secretary General and the EU to put pressure on Algeria to shoulder its responsibility with regards to protecting Ould Sidi Mouloud and his family against reprisals by the polisario.

The abduction of the former chief inspector of the “polisario’s police” led to a wave of indignation and solidarity in France. In this respect, a group of French jurists and university professors set up in Paris a committee to support Ould Sidi Mouloud and put pressure on Algeria to release him.

French senators to support Morocco’s autonomy plan in international bodies September 29, 2010

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French senators, who recently visited the Kingdom’s southern provinces, decided to stand up in international bodies for Morocco’s autonomy proposal to settle the Sahara issue, head of the delegation Christian Cambon told MAP.

Cambon also called on Algeria and the Polisario to “facilitate the negotiations” on the autonomy project, which was hailed by the international community as “serious and credible”.

Upon their return to France following a visit to the Sahara, on September 15-18, the Senators representing different French political parties have agreed to hold, shortly in Paris, an international conference to highlight the relevance of the autonomy project.

“Several factors lead us to support this project and our visit to the southern provinces only confirmed our belief in this regard,” noted Cambon, the president of France-Morocco friendship group in the Senate.

“We think this is a positive initiative that should be encouraged, as all solutions proposed in the past, including the referendum on self-determination, led to nothing,” he said.

Cambon added that the Moroccan project is backed by “the significant investments” achieved by the Moroccan authorities to develop the southern provinces.

The French senator also stressed the need to “take into consideration the humanitarian aspect” of the situation in the Tindouf camps  (south-western Algeria).

“Tens of thousands of Sahrawis are held against their will in these camps,” he said, citing, in this regard, the case of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, Inspector General of the polisario’s police, who was kidnapped on his way to Tindouf after he publicly voiced support for Moroccan autonomy initiative.