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On W. Sahara, France Downplays Rights & Free Movement, King to Visit?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 17, updated -- Even after the Western Sahara report of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was watered down to downplay Morocco's spying on and blocking access for UN peacekeepers of the MINURSO mission, this sample statement remained in, concerning Dakhla:

"The Moroccan authorities objected to MINURSO involvement, indicating that the Mission had strayed beyond its mandate. The Mission was also advised that no MINURSO office presence could be established outside Laayoune."

   After Tuesday briefing, Inner City Press was reliably informed that it is the political officers, specifically, that Morocco does not want in Dakhla. Why not? 

After last year's argument that visits by the UN Special Rapporteurs could replace a human rights monitoring component like other UN peacekeeping missions have, only one rapporteur visited this year, and only for one day, on cultural rights. Now it's said that the Rapporteur on torture might be able to go... in September.

  In the so-called Group of Friends of Western Sahara, the required resolution to "roll over" MINURSO's mandate is being negotiated. But thus far there is no agreement. Outstanding issues include how to refer to and even address Morocco's restrictions on freedom of movement of peacekeepers, and how to refer to human rights.

   France's "expert" on leaving out human rights, one Mariam Diallo, is conveying her government's opposition to disclosing restrictions on MINURSO, even as "France Diplomatie" tweets that it will be intransigent on freedom of movement in Syria. Quel hypocrisie!

It is possible that a draft resolution will be circulated to the other members of the Council, including for example South Africa -- there is no African country, strangely, among the "Group of Friends of Western Sahara" -- with brackets, indicating the Group's lack of agreement. Adoption is sceduled for April 24, but could go to the end of the month. Watch this site.

Footnote: Tuesday's Security Council session was closed-door, but outside stories included that the King of Morocco may be preparing to go to the "occupied territory" of Western Sahara, that local clothing is being bought and made in order to dress up "settlers" to create pro-Morocco television images.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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