quinta-feira, 16 de julho de 2009

Meeting of MFA of NAM in Sharm Sheikh adopts motion supporting right of Sahrawi people to self-determination

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the non-Aligned Movement meeting Monday at Sharm Sheikh, Egypt, have adopted a motion, reaffirming the previous positions of the Non-Aligned Movement on the question of Western Sahara, according to a source close to the Participating Sahrawi delegation.

The Ministers renewed their commitment to a mutually acceptable political solution which will provide self-determination for the people of Western Sahara consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 and other relevant resolutions.

the Ministers welcomed the four rounds of negotiation held under the auspices of the Secretary General and 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, thus ensuring implementation of Security Council resolutions 1754, 1783 and 1813 and the success of negotiations.

The Ministers called upon the parties and the States in the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary General and his Personal Envoy, and with each other, and reaffirmed the responsibility of the United Nations towards the people of Western Sahara.

A Sahrawi delegation comprising the Delegate Minister in charge of Africa, Mohamed Yaslem Bessat, and SADR Ambassador to Uganda, Hamdi Beha, took part in Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the non-Aligned Movement in Sharm Sheikh, Egypt.

New round of preliminary negotiations between Polisario Front and Morocco in late July (Saharawi Ambassador in Algiers)

The SADR Ambassador in Algiers, Mr. Ibrahim Ghali, said Monday that a new round of preliminary negotiations between the Polisario Front and Morocco "could be held in late July in a European country. "

In a statement to the press on the sidelines of a conference on "Sahrawi resistance in the occupied territories" held at the Centre for Strategic Studies of daily Echaab, Mr. Ghali said "this round will be informal and intended to Prepare for the next round of negotiations."

"The date of the next round of negotiations depends on the results of preliminary negotiations in late July," said the diplomat. Mr. Ghali has also desired that "the United Nations assume its full role in these negotiations and the personal envoy brings the party which blocks the negotiations to cooperate with the Polisario Front to move towards a fair and definitive solution to the conflict ".

Regarding the delegation representing the Polisario Front to these negotiations, the ambassador indicated it would be formed later on.

He added that the number of members of the delegation would be lower than previous delegations "as requested by the UN but count the same members who participated in previous rounds."

Finally, the Saharawi ambassador stressed that "the only claim of the Saharawi people is that these negotiations be conducted seriously and prepare for other rounds in the framework of international legality in order to enable it to exercise its right to self-determination ".

Sahrawi official: We ask for more effective African solidarity with struggle of Sahrawi people

The director of Saguia Al Hamra and Rio de Oro centre for strategic studies, Mr. Baba Mustapha Sayed, called Monday in Algiers on African countries for “more effective” solidarity towards the Sahrawi people in its struggle against the Moroccan Occupation.

In his statement, on the sidelines of the international conference on “the colonial institution and liberation movements in Africa,” he stressed, “the responsibility of African states towards the Sahrawi people, deprived of all its rights despite all resolutions of international organizations, is still standing.

The Sahrawi official added, “these states should undertake a more practical and effective solidarity to totally liberate our continent from colonialism.”

He called for “to put an end to colonialism in the African continent” pointing out that the Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa.

Mr. Baba Sayed said also, “it s time to break the wall of silence to allow our people, living behind the wall of separation built by the authorities of occupation to separate the occupied territories to join the rest of the Sahrawi people.”

Deploring the fact that Africa “is not completely independent” as long as the Western Sahara “still obsessed by colonialism,” he expressed hope that this solidarity, “include all aspects in particular political and social ones.”

The speaker also indicated, “the majority of the Sahrawi people wrestle “unarmed” against the Moroccan colonialism, adding, “we are in need of material and political solidarity and recognition of daily resistance and struggle of this people.”

Mr. Baba added that the solidarity towards the Sahrawi people “shouldn t be only verbal,” but also the support to gain its independence.

On the other hand, the speaker regretted the position of France on the question of Western Sahara, in particular, during meetings of the UN Security Council, pointing out that this country “defends Morocco by all means” reaffirming “human rights violations are today committed in the occupied Sahrawi territories with approval of this country, which is considered to be the advocate of human rights.”

He, moreover, did not rule out the possibility of returning to armed struggle, to liberate the occupied Sahrawi territories, if “the UN continues to keep cross-hands in front of the Moroccan colonialist regime.”

Mr. Baba Sayed concluded his speech saying, “the cease-fire has served only Morocco, which continued to plunder our resources.”

Wilaya of Laayoune and municipality of central Algiers sign renewal of twining

The renewal of twining was signed Tuesday in Tifariti square in Algeirs, a symbol of liberated Saharawi territories , by the governor of Wilaya of Layoune and member of the Polisario Front National Secretariat, Mohamedlamine Daddi, and the president of the central Algiers municipality, Tayeb Zaituni .

The twining renewal ceremony was attended by minister of culture, khadija Hamdi, minister of education, Mariam Hmada, counsellor to the presidency, Lahraitani Lahsan, President of Algerian committee of solidarity with the Saharawi People, Mehrez Alamari, president of Saharawi-Algerian Committee of Friendship, Tayeb Alhawari, in addition to ambassadors to Algeria, respectively of Venezuela, Mexico, Namibia, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Zimbabwe.

In his speech, Mr. Alamari welcomed the attendance reaffirming Algeria s firm position on the question of Western Sahara, supporting the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self- determination.

On his part, the governor of Laayoune expressed his gratitude to the municipality of central Algeria, adding that this twining constitutes a considerable support for the Saharawi cause and provides for common cooperation between Laayoune and central Algiers in many aspects.

Mr. Zaituni hailed the audience saying, “the people and Government of Algeria remain supportive of the Saharawi people and its just cause to achieve its legitimate rights of freedom and independence on the whole of the SADR.

He added “the renewal of twining between Laayoune and central Algiers was marked this year by the Second Pan –African cultural festival in Algeria and the presence of a delegation of Saharawi lawyers coming from occupied Saharawi territories” whom he said, “reminded us of the heroes of Algeria during the liberation struggle, who travelled around the world demanding the right of Algerian people and withdrawal of France from Algeria ”.

It should be recalled that the Wilaya of Laayoune and municipality of central Algiers signed on March 26, 2002, a twining consisting of many articles calling for common cooperation in several aspects.

President of Sahrawi Committee against Torture: Nearly 170,000 Moroccan soldiers deployed in occupied territories

Nearly 170,000 Moroccan soldiers are deployed in the Saharawi occupied territories, said Monday in Algiers the chairperson of the Sahrawi Committee against Torture, Mr. Mami Aamar Salem.

"These soldiers were deployed in the occupied territories to repress civil Sahrawi resistance," said Mami Aamar Salem in a speech to a conference entitled "The Sahrawi resistance in the occupied territories" held at "Echaab" Daily centre for Strategic Studies.

Sahrawi resistance "is not new,” its beginning dates back many years to show the world that" the Polisario Front is the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people ", Aamar Mami Salem said.

He added, in this context, that the resistance is still aimed at "breaking the military blockade imposed on the media and region, as it has already accomplished several achievements including the establishment of relations with international organizations."

On the other hand, Naama Asfari, lawyer and former political prisoner, said that the presence in Algeria of a dozen militants of Sahrawi human rights and former political prisoners, aimed to publicize the Sahrawi cause and civil resistance of its people.

This presence is "a revival of the Saharawi cause," he added noting that "the Saharawi people, while being capable of directing the negotiations, it can also lead uprisings.

"We believe that all means are legal when it comes to snatch our rights," stressed Mr. Aamar Mami Salem, stating that "the use of peaceful means is a testament to the unwavering commitment of Sahrawi citizens in the occupied territories and their attachment to their legitimate representative, which is the Polisario Front".

Ahmed Ennassiri, formerly detained in Moroccan prisons, has also discussed the conditions of detention of Saharawi prisoners and the reality of civil Sahrawi resistance.

moreover, former political prisoners and activists of human rights from the occupied territories had come at the invitation of the Algerian national committee in support of the Saharawi people (CNASPS), denounced the violations of human rights perpetrated by the Moroccan forces of occupation against the defenceless Sahrawi citizens.

Obama reverses Bush-backed Morocco plan in favor of Polisario state

(Worldtribune.com) WASHINGTON- President Barack Obama has backed a Polisario state, ending U.S. support for a Moroccan plan to establish autonomy for Western Sahara. Morocco has warned the West that such a state could become a haven for Al Qaida and other terror organizations.

Diplomatic sources said the Obama administration has disassociated itself from a Moroccan plan for autonomy for the disputed Western Sahara. They said the White House no longer sees itself as committed to the endorsement by then-President George Bush of Western Sahara autonomy.

"The United States no longer supports or endorses the Moroccan autonomy plan," a diplomatic source said. "Instead, the administration has returned to the pre-Bush position that there could be an independent Polisario state in Western Sahara."

"The Moroccans have become highly concerned by the U.S. reversal," the source said. "It calls into question whether Obama sees himself as committed to anything agreed to by his predecessors, which is a key factor in diplomacy."

In 2007, Rabat launched its plan to end the 35-year-old dispute with the Algerian-backed Polisario by offering autonomy to Western Sahara, 80 percent of which has been under Moroccan control.

At the time, Morocco persuaded such allies as France and the United States that a Polisario-dominated state would become a haven for Islamic insurgency groups, including Al Qaida.

But the sources said the administration dropped U.S. support for Western Sahara autonomy in June 2009. They said the White House ordered the State Department to interpret the United Nations mediation effort between Morocco and Polisario as including the option of statehood. In 2008, a Security Council report determined that Polisario’s demand for independence for Western Sahara was unfeasible.

Obama reversed U.S. policy on Western Sahara in a letter to Morocco’s King Mohammed in June, the sources said. The letter, which focused on a U.S. request for Morocco’s help to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process, ended with a reference to UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara.

"I share your commitment to the UN-led negotiations as the appropriate forum to achieve a mutually agreed solution," Obama wrote. "My government will work with yours and others in the region to achieve an outcome that meets the people’s need for transparent governance, confidence in the rule of law, and equal administration of justice."

Unlike Bush, Obama did not reiterate support for Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara. Several days after the Obama letter, the sources said, U.S. envoy Christopher Ross arrived in Rabat and pressed for unilateral Moroccan concessions to Polisario, which has threatened to renew war with the North African kingdom.

The sources said Ross urged Morocco to accept Polisario’s demand to ease security measures in Western Sahara as a condition for resuming negotiations. They said the U.S. appeal violated a resolution by the UN Security Council in April 2009 that called for direct and unconditional negotiations.

8,000 artists celebrate in Panafrican Festival


Algeria (AP) — From superstars to tribal dancers, thousands of African artists are celebrating their troubled continent’s culture and potential in an epic festival — and looking back at what they’ve accomplished and squandered in four decades of freedom from colonial rule.

It’s been 40 years since the first Panafrican Festival in Algiers. Since then, there has been so much bloodshed, instability and financial turmoil across the continent that nobody was in a position to organize a second one, until now.

The opening parade this week made for a staggering one-and-a-half-hour show, with several hundred performers from Congo’s Pygmy hunters to Kenya’s Masai and Mali’s Peuhl tribesmen mixing their dances and songs with Arab fighters galloping through the stage on horseback, fire-eaters and trapeze artists.

Some 8,000 dancers, singers and other artists are gathering with academics for symposiums, plays and writing seminars at the second Panafrican Festival, which lasts until July 20 at hundreds of venues throughout Algeria.

Yet the event aims beyond just pleasing audiences.

"The idea is to reflect on what we’ve done with four decades of freedom," said Zouaoui Benhamadi, a senior Algerian official who’s been preparing the festival for 14 months and describes it as "a gigantic think-tank for Africa."

Part of the goal, he said, is to move on from postcolonial problems to "look at what Africa can really be proud of and build in the future."

The first festival took place in Algiers in 1969 amid widespread euphoria. Most African nations had just gained independence, they were full of hope, and Algeria was spearheading the nonaligned movement balancing between the Western and Soviet blocks.

The decades since have been less heady.

Many African states are still struggling to overcome dictatorships or army-led regimes, while civil-wars, famine and corruption remain widespread across a continent that experienced the world’s worst recent genocide in Rwanda and faces accusations of a second one in Darfur.

Algeria especially was long in no position to stage a second festival, said chief organizer Benhamadi, referring to the "black decade" of near civil war between armed Islamists and Algerian authorities that killed up to 200,000 people during the 1990s.

Things have now improved, "but we need to understand where we’re going," he said.

Somalia hasn’t sent a delegation to the festival because it is too weakened by the war and maritime piracy raging in the country. Morocco hasn’t either, because it withdrew from the African Union after the contested Western Sahara territory was included. Other countries, meanwhile, are teetering from recent coups, such as Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania.

"Maybe culture, which is Africa’s greatest wealth, can offer an answer," Benhamadi said.

In the opening parade late Monday, Cape Verde’s Cesaria Evora emerged from all the brouhaha, a petite, aging figure who sang her internationally acclaimed "Fado" songs to the bemused crowd of several thousand in Algiers’ main closed-door concert hall.

She was followed by Senegal superstar Youssou N’dour, and one of the Arabic music scene’s last divas, the Algerian-born Warda.

The show was styled as a dance and song fresco that traces Africa’s history. Dancers enacted slavery and colonization, before portraying Africa’s independence struggle. As they performed, a 360-degree movie on the walls showed archive footage of the continent’s bloody liberation wars and key moments in the fight against colonialism — such as Algeria’s proclamation of independence from France in 1962 and the liberation of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela from Apartheid prisons in 1990.

"This is extremely cool, all the more so that we don’t know much about Africa," said Faycal Belkharad, 22, an engineering student at Algiers’ university. Dancing and sweating like most of the audience, he pointed out that Algeria usually relies more on French culture and television, or pan-Arabic satellite TV, than on its ties to Africa. "It’s as if we’re reclaiming who we are," he said

"Even in Paris, I’ve never seen anything so startling," added Tassadit Cherifi, 24, a Franco-Algerian lawyer trainee in Algiers.

Still, several voices have been critical of the festival, saying Algeria could better spend the millions of dollars solving its huge social problems rather than funding culture.

There are also security concerns in an often-restive town like Algiers. An AP reporter saw a man critically injured from a stab wound next to one of the festival’s open-air concerts in downtown Algiers late Monday.

Police have confirmed the man later died, but said the incident was related to drug trafficking, not to one of the many scuffles that often erupt during public events in the capital.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved