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Western Sahara conflict

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  • #16
    TIFARITI, Western Sahara: On a rocky hilltop deep in the Sahara Desert, five soldiers warm themselves around a charcoal brazier, sipping tea and dreaming of a war that doesn't come.

    Their enemy, the Moroccan army, crouches behind fortifications just 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the west across a moon-flooded plain. But the two sides' guns have been silent for 15 years.

    For the five soldiers, that is 15 years too long.

    They belong to the Polisario Front, a well-armed and increasingly impatient force of indigenous Saharawis who want independence for their homeland — the vast Western Sahara — which Morocco has occupied since 1975.

    For now, a cease-fire in place since 1991 holds on this forgotten front, overshadowed by conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. But the drumbeat for a return to war is growing louder both among Polisario troops and the 160,000 Western Saharans in dusty refugee camps in southwest Algeria's desert.

    A promised U.N. referendum meant to decide Western Sahara's fate remains just that — a promise. After 15 years of lobbying for the vote, which Morocco stubbornly rejects, patience among Polisario fighters is wearing thin.

    "I know that land stone by stone," mused Ali-Taleb Najem, a graying veteran. "When it's time to attack, we'll know what to do."

    An incredulous giggle ripped from Saleh Ahel-Baidan, a shy 18-year-old with a wispy mustache.

    "What, you don't believe me?" said Najem patiently. He has spent most of his life campaigning in this desert and has breached the Moroccan lines more than once.

    "OK, OK, I believe you," Saleh said, regaining composure.

    Saleh joined the men only four months ago. He has never seen his enemy but said stoutly: "I'm looking forward to it."

    For now, chances of a new war are low, but the stakes would be high. The California-sized territory hugging North Africa's Atlantic Coast is rich in minerals and suspected offshore oil — wealth that enticed Morocco to invade Western Sahara, ceded it in 1975 by outgoing colonizer Spain.

    Holding on to Western Sahara pits Morocco against Algeria, even as the U.S. wants the two regional heavyweights to work together against Islamic extremism. Algeria backs Polisario because it wants to check Morocco's attempt to expand its territory, and expects access to Western Sahara's resources and ports should Polisario finally win.

    So far, Algeria has shown little appetite for another war, and Polisario leaders in the refugee camps are unlikely to start one without Algeria's permission. But Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been unflinching in his support for Polisario — last month, he urged visiting Spanish leaders to press Morocco to allow an independence referendum for Western Sahara.

    For the Polisario fighters, ending the stalemate looks increasingly urgent as morale crumbles on the home front — the refugee camps.

    "There's some slipping of the sense of hope and future," especially among young people, said Janet Lenz, who oversees charity work in the camps by Christ the Rock Church in Wisconsin.

    "Their parents gave up everything to the cause with the idea of getting back to the homeland. The young generation doesn't even know the homeland."

    Even their parents would hardly recognize it now. Morocco has poured money and settlers into the empty desert, building towns and infrastructure. Moroccans, lured by tax breaks and government jobs, now outnumber the estimated 50,000-90,000 Saharawis still living there.

    In November, the U.N.'s World Food Program, which distributes food to the camps, warned that a lack of donations threatened 90,000 of the poorer refugees with rare food shortages. The WFP did not explain why donors have cut back support.

    "We're just waiting for the order — we want to attack," said Commander Hamdi Mohamed, a lanky career Polisario soldier in a crisp olive uniform who leads a battalion on the border. He blames the U.N. intervention for thwarting Western Sahara's shot at independence.

    During the 1975-1991 hot war, Polisario built on the Saharawis' camel-raiding heritage to launch surprise assaults on Morocco's sluggish conventional army.

    Whenever Morocco retaliated with its modest air force featuring French Rafale and Mirage fighter jets, Polisario would vanish again into the desert before the planes could do much damage.

    Morocco raised a 1,600-mile (2,575-kilometer) sand wall in defense as combined casualties mounted into the thousands. This left the two armies facing off across a mine-ridden no man's land. Occasionally Polisario overtook the wall in fierce dawn assaults before the 1991 cease-fire put the fighting on indefinite hold.

    Mohamed blames the lack of international attention paid Western Sahara on the fact that "we have had a clean war, without any suicide bombings or killing civilians."

    Saharawis complain that they have worked hard to play by the rules, but it has gotten them nowhere.

    The refugee camps are well-organized and their society egalitarian. The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, an exile government led by Polisario, is a democracy recognized by some 60 countries that Saharawis consider a blueprint for a free Western Sahara.

    Women's rights are widely respected, literacy in the camps is more than 90 percent, and many people study at universities abroad — mainly in Spain, Cuba and Algeria — through scholarship programs.

    But the U.N.'s failure to advance their cause "is sending the message that everything (the Saharawis) are doing is not useful, that maybe they should be violent," said Malainin Lakhal, head of the Saharawi Journalists' Union.

    Upcoming elections to the Saharawis' governing congress could put more restless young leaders at the top.

    Although a new war looks remote, the U.N. isn't taking chances: The Security Council routinely extends the 300-strong peacekeeping mission installed in 1991, largely to observe and guarantee the cease-fire.

    Morocco has deployed 160,000 troops — the bulk of its army — in Western Sahara. U.N. mission officers believe Polisario's soldiers number thousands, nestled into the landscape in small groups carrying Kalashnikovs and anti-aircraft missiles, and driving Landrovers and Soviet-made tanks supplied by Algeria and Libya.

    Absent any fighting, the men perform field exercises and scout Moroccan positions, said Saleh. He enjoys the camaraderie and nights under the stars, but isn't sure if he would stay a soldier in a free Western Sahara.

    Commander Mohamed would. "I like my job and it's what I know."

    Saharan refugees long for new battle on a forgotten front


    • #17
      UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council Thursday (February 1st) that he plans to appoint British diplomat Julian Harston as his special envoy for Western Sahara and head of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. Harston will replace Italian Francesco Bastagli. The move aims at "spearheading efforts to re-start the long-stalled peace process in Western Sahara," the UN said.

      Ki-moon appoints British diplomat Julian Harston Special Representative for Western Sahara


      • #18
        Algerian daily: Morocco "censoring" pro-Sahrawi Internet sites


        • #19
          ALGIERS (Reuters) - Western Sahara's independence movement said on Monday it hoped the next French president would help resolve Africa's oldest territorial dispute by ending what it called France's pro-Moroccan stance.

          Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the self-proclaimed government in exile and a senior member of the Polisario Front independence movement, told a news conference France's role was of fundamental importance because of its close ties to north Africa.

          "We hope that the successor to (President Jacques) Chirac better understands that stability in the Maghreb depends on the satisfaction of the right of the Saharan people to self-determination and that France can contribute to that," he said.

          "It's in its (France's) interest and in the interest of peace and of regional cooperation."

          France is a close ally of Morocco but denies any partiality in Morocco's dispute with the Algerian-based Polisario Front over the northwest African territory of some 260,000 people.

          Morocco, claiming centuries-old rights over a territory rich in phosphates, fisheries and possibly offshore oil, annexed Western Sahara when Spain withdrew in 1975.

          That triggered a guerrilla war that ended in 1991, when the United Nations brokered a truce and sent in peacekeepers in anticipation of a self-determination referendum. The vote never happened and Morocco now insists the most it will offer is regional autonomy.

          Morocco sees France as the main supporter for an autonomy proposal drafted by a Moroccan advisory council in December. Diplomats say King Mohammed dispatched an official delegation to brief Chirac on Monday on the autonomy blueprint.

          Ould Salek, speaking in reply to questions, said: "As far as the (French) elections are concerned, we consider that this is a crucial question."

          "Unfortunately since the start of the conflict, France, and above all the France of Chirac, has sided completely with the aggression, with the Moroccan attitude."

          France goes to the polls in a first round on April 22 with a second round run-off set for May 6 between the two top candidates. The main candidates are Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royale.

          Ould Salek reiterated his administration's objection to the autonomy blueprint. Once King Mohammed endorses the plan, Rabat is expected to launch a diplomatic campaign to drum up support for autonomy at home and abroad.

          The U.N. Security Council voted in October to keep peacekeepers in Western Sahara for six more months but shunned a plea that Morocco do more to safeguard human rights in the territory after France objected.

          Polisario urges France to change Western Sahara stance


          • #20
            A new Moroccan plan to grant substantial autonomy to its restive Western Sahara region offers the best chance to end a damaging stalemate with neighboring Algeria and resolve Africa's oldest territorial dispute, a top Moroccan diplomat said yesterday.

            "This is a plan that can create a new reality not just for Morocco but for the North Africa region and for the United States, the African Union and Europe," said Taib Fassi-Fihri, Morocco's minister-delegate for foreign affairs and cooperation.

            "In the context of the challenges we all face in the Arab world, from radicalism, terrorism and al Qaeda, it would be extremely useful for everyone to have this problem resolved," he said in an interview.

            He noted that on the day he was visiting Washington, a group linked to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks against police stations in Algeria, killing six persons and underscoring the threat of militant Islamist forces in the region.

            Mr. Fassi-Fihri was in Washington to brief U.S. officials on the "negotiated autonomy" plan, approved by King Mohammed in December after extensive consultations with the country's leading political parties and social groups.

            It aims to end a territorial dispute dating back to 1975, when Morocco took control of the sparsely populated but resource-rich Western Sahara after colonial power Spain withdrew. That triggered an armed clash with the Algerian-backed separatist Polisario Front, which claims to be defending the rights of the region's nomadic Saharawi people.

            A U.N.-negotiated cease-fire ended the shooting war in 1991, but Algeria and the Polisario Front never recognized Morocco's claim and a planned self-determination referendum for the Western Sahara has been blocked repeatedly.

            Mr. Fassi-Fihri said the dispute with Algeria has created serious obstacles to the region's economic development and its ability to unite on common problems. Refugees from the fighting in Western Sahara remain in camps on the Algerian side of the border about 32 years after the fighting first erupted.

            "Our border with our neighbor is totally closed off. It is an incredible situation," Mr. Fassi-Fihri said.

            Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign spokesman for the Polisario separatist government in exile, sharply rejected the new Moroccan autonomy plan earlier this month.

            "The occupier's plan is null and void. It is stillborn," he told reporters in Algiers.

            But Moroccan officials say they have received a good hearing in Washington and European capitals. French President Jacques Chirac called Rabat's proposal "constructive" earlier this month after a visit from the Moroccan delegation.

            Mr. Fassi-Fihri said Moroccan officials plan to refine the proposal after gauging international reaction and present a concrete proposal to the U.N. Security Council in April, when a vote is scheduled to extend the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara.

            He said Morocco could impose the autonomy proposal on its own, but wanted a solution that had U.N. backing and that addressed the refugee question.

            "This is not a tactical move but a strategic approach from us to deal with all the problems holding back our region," he said.

            Western Sahara hope seen - Moroccan diplomat


            • #21
              A Moroccan government delegation, led by Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa, was in London on Wednesday (February 21st) to present its proposal for the solution of the ongoing dispute over Western Sahara. The delegation was received by British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Margaret Beckett, State Minister at the Foreign Office in charge of the Middle East, Kim Howells, and Home Secretary John Reid. The delegation also held talks with members of the British Parliament.

              In related news, self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Oumar said the international conference of solidarity with the Western Saharan population will be held on Monday and Tuesday in Tifariti. The event will coincide with celebrations of the 31st anniversary of the self-proclamation of SADR. More than 800 guests from Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia are expected to take part in the forum.

              Morocco presents its Western Sahara plan in London


              • #22
                RABAT, Morocco: Morocco will present an autonomy plan for Western Sahara to the United Nations next month, a top Moroccan official said Friday, outlining the government's latest bid to resolve a three-decade conflict on its terms.

                Morocco, which took control of Western Sahara in the 1970s after Spain pulled out, says autonomy is the only way to end a conflict with the Polisario Front, an Algerian-backed independence movement. It first proposed autonomy in 2000. The Polisario Front, though, insists on holding a referendum on independence. Morocco says a vote would be unworkable.

                The stalled conflict has stranded 160,000 refugees in bleak camps in the Algerian Sahara, poisoned relations between Morocco and Algeria, and inflicts heavy costs on Morocco, already struggling with widespread poverty and unemployment.

                Last fall, key members of the U.N. Security Council made clear they wanted to see real progress on Western Sahara before the U.N. mission's current mandate runs out on April 30. The autonomy plan, expected to be presented at the United Nations in April.

                Khalihenna Ould Errachid, King Mohamed VI's chief adviser on the territory, told The Associated Press that the autonomy plan would give Western Sahara a parliament, a chief of state, Cabinet ministries and a judiciary.

                "We can stay at an impasse, or seek a middle way that leaves neither winners nor losers — and that's autonomy," Ould Errachid said Wednesday in the first of two interviews this week.

                "If Polisario doesn't want to talk about autonomy, Morocco will go ahead alone," Ould Errachid said, adding however that Morocco would not be likely to press on with an autonomy plan without U.N. approval.

                A Western Sahara parliament could create laws — as long as they don't violate Morocco's national law, while regional courts would fall under the Moroccan legal system, he said.

                The regional government would oversee day-to-day life in the territory in areas like education, tourism and social services. Morocco would retain control of foreign relations, defense, finance and border control, he said.

                Western Sahara would also keep the main emblems of Moroccan sovereignty — the country's flag, its currency, the dirham, and its stamps. King Mohamed VI would continue to be recognized as the highest religious authority in the land.

                Morocco currently subsidizes life for Western Sahara's 50,000 to 90,000 Saharawis and 200,000 Moroccan settlers. Under autonomy, the territory will be expected to pay its own way, Ould Errachid said.

                Western Sahara boasts phosphates, fisheries and possible offshore oil, but the territory's disputed status has prevented their full exploitation. Last year, the European Union signed a fishing deal with Morocco allowing European fisherman to fish Western Sahara's waters.

                In recent weeks, Moroccan diplomats have visited several Western capitals including Paris, Washington and London to tout the plan, which has not yet been presented in public.

                Morocco and Mauritania split Western Sahara after its Spanish colonizers ceded them the territory in 1975.

                Spain initially planned for autonomy and groomed Ould Errachid for Western Sahara's presidency, Ould Errachid said. But as the Moroccan-Mauritanian takeover loomed, Ould Errachid went to Morocco and swore allegiance to then king Hassan II.

                Full-scale war with the Polisario Front broke out in 1976, and Morocco took over most of Western Sahara after Mauritania pulled out in 1979.

                The United Nations has said it upholds the principle of self-determination and that any solution to Western Sahara must be accepted by both Morocco and Polisario.

                The U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and installed a mission to pave the way for an independence referendum, but attempts have foundered on disagreements about who should vote.

                Morocco says a referendum is unworkable. It refused a 2003 U.N. peace plan, accepted by Polisario, that envisaged temporary autonomy followed by a referendum in which both Saharawis and Moroccan settlers would vote.

                Morocco to present autonomy plan to UN to break deadlock over Western Sahara


                • #23
                  Mercredi 7 mars 2007 -- Le parquet de l’Audience nationale, la plus haute instance pénale espagnole, a demandé au juge Baltasar Garzon d’instruire une plainte déposée contre 32 responsables marocains pour génocide au Sahara occidental, a-t-on indiqué hier de source judiciaire.

                  Cette source a confirmé des informations du quotidien El Mundo selon lesquelles le parquet de l’Audience nationale jugeait cette plainte recevable en raison du principe de juridiction universelle reconnu en Espagne. Le juge Garzon n’a pas encore décidé s’il allait instruire cette plainte qui vise 32 anciens responsables sécuritaires marocains, dont l’ancien ministre de l’Intérieur, Driss Basri, homme fort du règne du défunt roi Hassan II.

                  Il a demandé aux associations espagnoles proches des Sahraouis qui ont déposé cette plainte de préciser leurs griefs avant de se prononcer. Il n’a pas à ce jour reçu de réponse, a-t-on ajouté de même source. Les plaignants dénoncent l’existence depuis 1975, année de l’annexion du Sahara occidental par le Maroc, d’«un plan systématique d’élimination du peuple sahraoui mis en œuvre de manière organisée et hiérarchisée».

                  Ils affirment que «plusieurs milliers de Sahraouis» ont disparu lors de la «guerre d’invasion» du Sahara occidental par le Maroc et après l’annexion de cette ancienne colonie espagnole en 1975. La plainte déposée à Madrid recense les noms de 206 de ces personnes disparues entre 1975 et 1980.

                  Sahara occidental : Le parquet espagnol demande une instruction pour génocide


                  • #24
                    Jeudi 8 mars 2007 -- Le département des affaires étrangères des Etats-Unis a dénoncé les violations marocaines des droits de l’homme en 2006 au Sahara occidental, a indiqué hier l’agence de presse sahraouie SPS, sur la base d’un rapport rendu public mardi.

                    Le rapport relate sur neuf pages des cas de détention, de tortures, et cite des noms de détenus politiques et d’activistes de droits de l’homme depuis le début de l’Intifada sahraouie en mai 2005, dans différentes villes du Sahara occidental sous occupation marocaine.

                    Le texte indiquait que les manifestants revendiquaient l’indépendance du Sahara occidental et le respect des droits humains dans les territoires occupés. Par la suite, les manifestations ont repris à cet effet à El-Ayoun (capitale du Sahara occidental) en octobre 2005 et plus tard pour attirer l’attention sur le 30e anniversaire de la marche verte, indiquait le rapport avant d’évoquer le cas de Hamdi Lembarki, mort des blessures que lui avaient causées les forces marocaines durant les manifestations.

                    Le texte a par ailleurs évoqué l’interdiction d’accès au territoire occupé imposée aux délégations et journalistes étrangers, venus s’enquérir de la situation des droits humains dans les territoires occupés. «Le gouvernement marocain a imposé des restrictions sur la liberté d’expression, de réunion et d’association», accuse encore le rapport.

                    A la fin de novembre 2006, les autorités coloniales ont bloqué plusieurs sites Internet sahraouis, alors que les autochtones assurent qu’il leur est impossible de constituer des associations politiques ou des ONG, ajoute-t-il. Le département américain des Affaires étrangères rappelait que le 9 octobre un rapport interne du bureau du Haut-Commissariat des droits de l’homme, critiquant le gouvernement marocain pour avoir nié le droit à l’autodétermination au peuple sahraoui fut rendu public.

                    le Maroc y était aussi accusé de violation des droits des activistes sahraouis favorables à l’indépendance et soulignait l’usage excessif de la force contre les manifestants. Madrid n’est pas restée non plus indifférente devant les violations répétitives des droits de l’homme au Sahara occidental.

                    Le ministère public de l’Audience nationale, la plus haute instance pénale d’Espagne, a demandé au célèbre juge Baltasar Garzon d’enquêter sur les accusations de «crimes internationaux» qu’auraient commis «32 dirigeants et militaires marocains» au Sahara occidental depuis le début de l’occupation du territoire en 1975, rapportait mardi le quotidien espagnol El Mundo.

                    Selon le journal, les accusations sont contenues dans une plainte présentée le 14 septembre dernier à la haute juridiction par un collectif d’associations espagnoles de défense des droits de l’homme. Lors de la présentation de la plainte, Me Manuel Ollé Sesé, avocat au barreau de Madrid, président de l’Association de défense des droits de l’homme d’Espagne (APDHE), avait déclaré que les crimes internationaux mentionnés dans la plainte portent sur des actes de génocide, de tortures, de disparitions forcées de personnes, de séquestrations, d’assassinats et de blessures.

                    La plainte relate en détail les circonstances dans lesquelles ont été perpétrés ces actes. Elle y décrit «comment 40 000 Sahraouis avaient dû fuir leur pays, comment ils étaient séquestrés, torturés, parfois jetés depuis des hélicoptères dans le vide, comment d’innombrables crimes étaient commis contre eux et tous les actes relevant du génocide».


                    • #25
                      Madrid - The disputed status of Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony ruled by Morocco, will never be a cause for war between Rabat and Algiers, said Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday in the El Pais newspaper.

                      Morocco has proposed self-government for the Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, rather than a referendum on independence as supported by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

                      However, Bouteflika sought to dispel any fears the issue would ever spark a military conflict between the two North African neighbours.

                      "I have said it several times: Never will the issue of the Sahara constitute a casus belli between Algeria and Morocco," which annexed the territory on Spain's withdrawal in 1975.

                      At the same time, Bouteflika said renewed hostilities between the Polisario Front and Morocco "cannot be ruled out" if a diplomatic solution fails to materialise.

                      'Free and fair referendum on independence'

                      The Algerian leader was speaking hours before Spain's King Juan Carlos began a state visit to Algeria and three months after Bouteflika asked Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to push for the organisation of "a free and fair referendum on independence" for Western Sahara.

                      Rabat is next month due to unveil its plans to grant autonomy within Moroccan sovereignty at the UN security council, a plan the Polisario Front has rejected as it would close the door on the option of independence.

                      For Bouteflika, "no unilateral solution is viable. Only the recognition of the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination can resolve the problem.

                      "That is the position reaffirmed by the United Nations," he told El Pais, stressing that Spanish and Algerian "positions on the issue of Western Sahara diverge a little".

                      In a March 6 statement which followed a Moroccan-Spanish summit Spain said it was studying with "interest" Rabat's autonomy proposal which Madrid believed could "open up a new dynamic for dialogue to overcome the current impasse".

                      That positive view dismayed Algiers.

                      However, Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos commented in Tuesday's El Pais that "Spain's position has not changed one iota.

                      "The resolution of the conflict in Western Sahara must be just, definitive, mutually acceptable and respect the principle of self-determination for the Sahrawi people."


                      • #26
                        Algiers -- Spanish King Juan Carlos began a state visit to Algeria on Tuesday amid bilateral tensions over the future of the Western Sahara. Spain has come out in favor of a new Moroccan autonomy plan to try to end the three-decade conflict that has stranded 160,000 refugees in the Sahara. But Algeria is at odds with Morocco over the issue. Juan Carlos raised the topic at a dinner with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, saying he hoped for a solution quickly, AP reported. "It is urgent, as my government has recently stressed, to find a just and lasting solution that is acceptable to all parties on the question of Western Sahara" the Spanish king said. His two-day visit ends Wednesday. In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais on Tuesday, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stressed that no unilateral solution would be viable. Morocco is expected to present its autonomy plan for Western Sahara to the United Nations next month. The plan would give the disputed region a parliament, a chief of state, Cabinet ministries and a judiciary.


                        • #27
                          Algiers, Mar 13 (Prensa Latina) Spain's King Juan Carlos de Borbón highlighted the importance of finding a "negotiated, just, lasting, acceptable solution" for Western Sahara.

                          Queen Sofia and Ministers Miguel Angel Moratinos (Foreign Affairs) and Joan Clos (Industry and Trade) accompany the King on Tuesday in his three-day visit to Algeria.

                          During their private meeting, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the Spanish mission discussed the issue, with no details made known so far.

                          The visit is expected to resolve disagreements between the two countries in the wake of Spanish approval of a Morocco-promoted self-government project for Western Sahara, rejected by Algeria and the Polisario Front that support an independent Sahrawi.

                          A rise in the price of gas sold to Spain, another sensitive issue in bilateral relations, is also expected to be part of the agenda, according to press.

                          At least six cooperation agreements in economic, diplomatic and parliamentary sectors have been signed between Algerian ministers and their Spanish counterparts.

                          The monarchs are also expected to take part in cultural and social activities in other regions of the country in the next few days.


                          • #28
                            ALGER (AP) - L'épineuse question du Sahara-Occidental, qui doit subir prochainement un nouvel examen du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, a été abordée mardi par le roi d'Espagne Juan Carlos 1er dès le premier jour de sa visite d'Etat en Algérie.

                            Ce déplacement intervient alors que le climat politique entre Alger et Madrid a été assombri par le soutien apporté par le gouvernement espagnol au projet marocain d'"autonomie pour le Sahara".

                            Le souverain espagnol, qui est notamment accompagné du ministre des Affaires étrangères Miguel Angel Moratinos, a souligné, lors du repas offert en son honneur par le président algérien Abdelaziz Bouteflika, l'urgence d'une solution politique "juste" et "durable" pour le Sahara-Occidental, qui prévoirait la libre détermination de son peuple.

                            "Il est urgent, comme l'a récemment souligné mon gouvernement, de trouver une solution politique juste, durable et acceptable par les parties sur la question du Sahara-Occidental, une solution prévoyant la libre détermination de ce peuple et passant par un dialogue des parties dans le cadre des Nations unies", a affirmé Juan Carlos.

                            Sur ce thème, le président algérien a estimé pour sa part, dans une interview au quotidien espagnol "El Pais" paru mardi, qu'"aucune solution unilatérale ne peut être viable" dans le règlement de la question du Sahara-Occidental.

                            "Seule la reconnaissance du droit du peuple sahraoui à l'autodétermination est de nature à résoudre le problème", a-t-il relevé, ajoutant qu'"aucune solution unilatérale ne peut être viable". Il a plaidé, dans ce contexte, pour "une solution pacifique par l'organisation sous l'égide de l'ONU d'un référendum d'autodétermination" du peuple sahraoui.

                            Le président Bouteflika a encore assuré que la question du Sahara-Occidental "ne peut constituer un casus belli entre l'Algérie et le Maroc", soutenant que les Espagnols "ont tout à gagner à assumer leur responsabilité morale et historique" sur cette question.

                            Le royaume du Maroc s'apprête à présenter au Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU son "projet d'autonomie" du Sahara-Occidental. Un plan que les Sahraouis ont rejeté, alors qu'Alger plaide toujours pour l'autodétermination du peuple sahraoui, conformément aux résolutions internationales.

                            Ancienne colonie espagnole, le Sahara-Occidental a été cédée en 1975 au Maroc et à la Mauritanie, cette dernière ayant depuis abandonné ses prétentions territoriales. Le conflit armé, entre 1975 et 1991, a fait des milliers de morts dans cette vaste région, peu peuplée mais riche en minerais. La plupart des Sahraouis, des nomades, ont fui en Algérie, où 160.000 vivent toujours dans des camps de réfugiés installés dans le désert. Ils sont aujourd'hui entre 50.000 et 90.000 à vivre dans le territoire, aux côtés d'environ 200.000 colons.

                            Pour leur deuxième journée en Algérie, le roi Juan Carlos et la reine Sofia se rendront mercredi dans le massif du Hoggar, dans le Sahara algérien, sur des sites de fresques rupestres répertoriées au Patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO. Jeudi, ils se rendront à Oran (400km à l'ouest d'Alger) où ils donneront le coup d'envoi de la troisième édition du Festival culturel espagnol.


                            • #29
                              Una gaffe politica di José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero irrita l’Algeria, che reagisce aumentando del 20% il prezzo delle forniture di gas alla Spagna. E tra i due Paesi scoppia una grave crisi che re Juan Carlos, in visita ad Algeri, tenta ora di risolvere.

                              Tutto è cominciato la settimana scorsa, durante la visita di Zapatero in Marocco. Il precedente governo conservatore di José Maria Aznar aveva stretto eccellenti relazioni con l’Algeria, alleato strategico della Spagna soprattutto nel settore energetico. Il premier socialista, appena arrivato al potere, ha cambiato linea politica, annunciando il suo appoggio alla proposta di autonomia per il Sahara Occidentale fatta dal Marocco e respinta invece da Algeri, che appoggia il movimento indipendentista del Fronte Polisario e chiede per l’ex colonia spagnola il diritto all’autodeterminazione.

                              L’Algeria ha reagito annunciando martedì un aumento del 20% delle tariffe del gas alla Spagna e creando un grave problema all’approvvigionamento elettrico del Paese e al governo socialista. Ora tenta di rimediare, con tutto il suo peso diplomatico, re Juan Carlos, da ieri in visita ufficiale ad Algeri, la prima da 24 anni a questa parte.


                              • #30
                                Mardi 20 Mars 2007 -- Radio Algérie Internationale émet depuis hier midi. Le Forum Doualia, première grande émission traitant de l’actualité internationale, était consacré au dossier du Sahara occidental. Mohamed Yeslem Baïssat, ambassadeur de la République arabe sahraouie démocratique à Alger, est donc la première personnalité à intervenir sur les ondes de Radio Algérie Internationale. Lors de cette émission, à laquelle ont participé des journalistes de plusieurs organes de presse, le diplomate sahraoui a abordé la question de la décolonisation de son pays sous différents aspects.

                                Mohamed Yeslem Baïssat est notamment revenu sur la responsabilité de l’Espagne dans ce conflit ainsi que sur le rôle «malsain» de la France de Jacques Chirac. «Le futur président français, qu’il soit de droite ou de gauche, ne pourrait jouer un rôle plus malsain envers la question du Sahara occidental que celui qu’a joué Jacques Chirac durant ses mandats successifs», a affirmé l’ambassadeur de la RASD à Alger. Notons par ailleurs que Radio Algérie Internationale a été inaugurée officiellement, hier, par le chef du gouvernement et le ministre de la Communication. Cette nouvelle chaîne d'information publique consacrée aux questions d'actualité internationales émet en arabe, français, anglais et en espagnol. Les auditeurs peuvent écouter les programmes de Radio Algérie Internationale sur les ondes d'émissions 101.5 FM, 104.2 FM et 95.6 FM ainsi que sur des fréquences satellites, à savoir via Arabsat et Nilsat pour les pays arabes et du Moyen-Orient, NESS 7 pour les pays d'Afrique, Hotbird pour les pays européens et enfin à travers les fréquences du satellite Galaxy pour les pays d'Amérique.


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