UN Security Council Meets Tuesday over UN Mission in Sahara

Published May 28th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The UN security council is scheduled to meet next Tuesday to renew the mandate of MINURSO (French acronym for the UN mission in charge of supervising the holding of a referendum in the Sahara), according to ArabicNews.com. 

The agency said that in the latest report to the Council by UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, he recommended that the MINURSO mandate, expiring this May 31, should be extended for an additional two-month period. 

Parties to the Sahara conflict will hold a meeting early June after a first round held in London last week between delegates of Morocco, the secessionist Polisario group, Algeria and Mauritania. The meeting ended with no substantial results. 

MINURSO was deployed in 1990 in the Sahara, a former Spanish colony retrieved by Morocco in 1975 under the Madrid accord. It is supervising a cease-fire and preparations for a referendum to give populations a chance to say whether they want the Sahara to remain Moroccan territory or stand up on its own as claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario movement. 

In the meanwhile, a new group of persons who defected the ranks of the Polisario separatist gang and returned to Morocco called Friday the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to speed up the repatriation of people forcefully held in the Polisario-controlled camps in Tindouf (southwestern Algeria), reported ArabicNews.com 

The new group, comprising three former executives within the separatists administration, made at a press conference in Rabat moving testimonies on the tragic situation of the population sequestered in the camps and insisted most of them are eager to leave the camps to return to their home country. 

They also condemned blatant human rights violations, torture and embezzlement of foreign humanitarian aid which have become daily practices. 

"Hundreds of persons die of torture, others have disappeared and scores of others are cold-bloodedly killed," said Moulay M'hamed, who worked at the "security and repression service" of the Polisario. Others are killed by the Police officers on mere suspicion that they are opponents and their murder presented as "martyrdom of the armed struggle for independence." 

To a question on Algerian financial aid to the Polisario, the agency quoted the defects as saying the salaries of the armed mercenaries and of the phantom entity representatives in Europe and America are paid by the Algerian state. In addition, added Ahmed Chrif, the Algerian military security has been supervising for 25 years now, training for the Polisario intelligence agents. He went on that training also take place in Cuba and Yugoslavia and Algerian military officers participate in the torture of the sequestered populations. 

The three men held Algeria responsible for the fate of their families who are still held in the camps, located in Algerian territory, said the report – Albawaba.com 



© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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