Western sahara Major events

EU-Africa summit: the blackmail of Algiers, Pretoria

Sahara News - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 11:04
The South African and Algerian regimes, fervent advocates of the separatist theses of the Polisario Front and its chimerical republic “SADR”, threaten to thwart the Africa-EU Summit scheduled for November 29-30 in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire. The two regimes that demand the participation of the pseudo-“SADR”, an entity not recognized as a “sovereign […]

Sahara: Polisario evacuates its opponents from Tindouf before Köhler arrives

Polisario-confidential - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 11:01
The visit Wednesday in the Tindouf camps of Horst Köhler, the new Personal Envoy of the UNSG for the Sahara, is worrying the Polisario leaders, who hastened to transfer far away from the camps all the Sahrawi opponents to avoid that they stage protests during the UN mediator’s sojourn. Horst Köhler arrived on Sunday in […]

New UN Envoy For Western Sahara To Make Regional Tour

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 10/14/2017 - 04:22

Daily Mail
By Afp

Former German president Horst Kohler, pictured speaking to reporters on behalf of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)as IMF Managing Director in 2003, will serve as the UN envoy to Western Sahara.

The UN’s new envoy for Western Sahara will travel to Morocco at the weekend as part of a regional tour aimed at kick-starting talks on ending the decades-old conflict over the disputed territory.

Former German president Horst Kohler will travel to Rabat on Sunday before heading to Algeria and Mauritania, UN sources said.

The visit comes ahead of his first report to the Security Council on October 24 on prospects for re-launching negotiations that have been comatose for years.

The council adopted a resolution in April that called for a new UN push for talks between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire in the former Spanish colony.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

One of the hurdles in the way of restarting talks was cleared when long-serving UN envoy Christopher Ross resigned in March following tensions with Morocco, which accused him of bias in favor of the Polisario.

The 74-year-old Kohler is a former International Monetary Fund chief and served as president of the European bank for reconstruction and development.

The United Nations opened negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front in 2007 and there have been several rounds since, with the latest held outside of New York in 2012.

There has been little progress however over resolving the future status of Western Sahara.

The United Nations has a mission of 450 staff, mostly military observers, who monitor the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario.

EU-Africa summit: Polisario destabilized by French diplomacy

Sahara News - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 11:35
The Polisario has been destabilized by France’s opposition to the participation in the EU-Africa summit in Abidjan, of its pseudo-Sahrawi republic “SADR”, which does not fulfil the criteria of a sovereign state according to the standards of the UN. At a press conference held on Monday (October 9th) in Rabat, after a meeting with his […]

Siemens Gamesa Cuts Ribbon On Moroccan Rotor Blade Factory

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 05:14

Renewables Now

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA (BME:SGRE) on Wednesday inaugurated a new rotor blade manufacturing plant in Morocco, the first facility of its kind in Africa and the Middle East.

The factory in the northwestern city of Tangier spans on an area of 37,500 sq m (403,647 sq ft). Being operational since April, it is producing 63-metre (207-ft) composite blades for Siemens Gamesa’s SWT-DD-130 turbine platform for local projects and exports to other African countries, Europe and the Middle East.

In the future, Siemens Gamesa can also start making turbine blades of up to 75 metres at the Moroccan plant.

The company’s CEO Markus Tacke noted that Morocco currently presents very good business opportunities that are “stronger than ever before.” “This location in Tangier provides us with direct access to some of the most important markets of tomorrow – here in Morocco, throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and in the Mediterranean Region,” he added,

Under its national programme, Morocco has set a goal to source up to 52% of the electricity it produces from renewables by 2030, with wind accounting for 20% of the total. The North African kingdom aims to have 2,000 MW of wind and 2,000 MW of solar power plants by 2020.

Siemens Gamesa, which has a 72% market share in Morocco, last year won the preferred bidder status in a 850-MW wind power tender in Morocco under a consortium with Italy’s Enel Green Power SpA (BIT:EGPW) and Moroccan Nareva Holding.

Morocco Increases Its Intellectual Property Official Fees

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 05:07

Inventa International

The Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC) recently announced an increase on its Intellectual Property official fees, including trademarks, patents and industrial designs.

Although Morocco has a comprehensive regulatory and legislative system for IP protection, in 2015, the authorities concerned voted into law the agreement between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Moroccan Patent Office, which simplified the patenting system in Morocco.

This increase in the oficial fees, which will be effective starting October 1st of 2017, will grant a reduction of up to 50% of users using the OMPIC online services.

You can consult the news fees here: http://www.ompic.org.ma/en/actualites/nouvelle-decision-des-tarifs-en-vigueur-partir-du-1er-octobre-2017

This country remains with high ambitions which welcomes foreign investments. Along with local development, this will certainly contribute for Morocco’s growth.

Africa’s Fastest Train: Morocco Tests New 200mph Service

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:58

By Annabel Fenwick Elliott, travel writer

The high-speed service will link Casablanca (pictured) with Tangier Credit: Getty.

Africa’s railway system is about to get a major upgrade with the launch of its fastest ever train.

Engineers in Morocco are testing trains capable of reaching 200mph – the top speed of the Eurostar – slashing journey times between the country’s key economic hubs by almost two thirds.

The 215-mile journey from Casablanca to Tangier via the capital city of Rabat will now take just over two hours, rather than five, when the service launches next summer.

During testing on Monday, one train reached 170 mph along a stretch of track between the northern cities of Kenitra and Tangier, it was revealed.

“This is already the fastest train on the African continent,” announced French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was in Morocco to sign a €2 billion (£1.7bn) loan deal between the French Development Agency and Morocco’s national railway operator, the ONCF.

He said the railway, dubbed the LGV and 50 per cent financed by France, was “emblematic of the Franco-Moroccan bilateral relationship”.

The trains will match the Eurostar for speed Credit: getty

According to the latest figures, the project is set to go around 15 per cent over budget, but ONCF head Rabii Lakhlii said the project had still cost “less than €9 million euros per kilometre (£13million per mile), compared to a European standard of €20 million euros per kilometre”.

The route, first mapped out in 2005, was made more complex by hilly terrain and strong winds and required the building of several viaducts including some more than two miles long.

The high-speed trains will be supplied by French conglomerate Alstom, 14 in total, each capable of carrying 533 passengers.

What does this mean for tourists?

The ONCF expects the line to attract six million travellers within its first three years, with other expansions in the North African country planned for the next three decades.

27 reasons why trains are better than planes

It currently costs in the region of 136-261 Moroccan Dirham (£11-£21) to take the line all the way from Casablanca to Tangier on the ONCF’s existing service, and Mr Lakhlii said that tickets will cost about 30 per cent more when the LGV rolls out.

Why has it sparked controversy?

Moroccan leaders have heralded the project as a key step in modernising the country’s infrastructure.

But opponents say the project, which has been under construction for six years, unfairly favoured French companies when handing out contracts.

Leading the way: China’s bullet train, the fastest in the world 00:43

Critics have also argued that the money, the total cost of which is around €2 billion, could have been better spent in a country where many live in poverty.

Morocco – which gained its independance from France in 1956 – has a gross national income of just 26,800MAD (£2,159) per capita, according to the World Bank.

Supporters argue, however, that if the new high-speed railway succeeds in attracting more tourists, it will boost what is already one of the most lucrative sectors in the Moroccan economy.

UN: Polisario worried by international support for autonomy plan

Polisario-confidential - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:43
The Polisario and its mentor, Algeria, have been unsettled over the past two weeks at the diplomatic level by one of the most worrying matters for them, that of the Morocco-proposed autonomy plan in the Sahara, which has gained clear international support. During the debates of the 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly meeting […]

Siemens Opens Wind Turbine Blades Factory In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 09:36

Source: Xinhua

Siemens opened on Wednesday in the northern Moroccan city of Tangier a wind turbine blades factory, the first ever in the entire Middle East and Africa region.

The launching ceremony of the plant, with total investment of 118 million U.S. dollars, was attended by Morocco’s Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

The facility spans over a surface area of 37,500 square meters and offers 600 jobs.

Apart from supplying local market, the factory will export primarily to the Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Morocco Rejects Spanish Catalonia’s Independence Move

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 07:20

Source: Xinhua

Morocco rejected on Wednesday Catalonia’s “unilateral” independence move, voicing its support to neighboring Spain’s territorial integrity.

“Morocco rejects the unilateral process of the independence of Catalonia, and expresses its attachment to the sovereignty, national unity and the territorial integrity of Spain,” the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence, but halted implementation to allow negotiations.

Deeming Catalonia’s government move as “irresponsible and unsustainable,” Morocco said the move is a source of “instability and division not only in Spain but throughout its European neighborhood.”

The north African kingdom said it is is confident in the Spanish government’s ability to manage wisely this situation to uphold constitutional order and serve the supreme interest of Spain and Europe.

Russian Prime Minister Strikes Energy Deals In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 04:34

Fox News

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a string of energy, military and other deals with Morocco during a North Africa tour.

Medvedev met Wednesday with Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani and presided at a signing ceremony for 11 bilateral agreements.

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The agreements cover cooperation in areas such as customs, agriculture, the military and culture, as well as energy efficiency and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The disputed Western Sahara region that Morocco annexed in the mid-1970s also was a topic of the talks.

Medvedev is traveling with a large Russian government delegation and Russian business executives. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI hosted a lunch in the prime minister’s honor.

He arrived in Morocco after a visit to Algeria, where he discussed oil prices and energy cooperation.

Catalans Have No Choice But To Delay, Says Former Adviser

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 04:25

Matt Robinson

Catalonia’s president has no choice but to suspend secession since it is unlikely anyone will recognize the Spanish region on the basis of a disputed referendum, a former British diplomat who has advised the Catalans and other secessionist movements said.

Carne Ross, who as founder of the diplomatic consultancy Independent Diplomat has worked with Kosovo, South Sudan, Western Sahara and Catalonia on their respective bids for sovereignty, said there would be no solution to the crisis without a legal plebiscite agreed to by Madrid.

To get there would require pressure from Spain’s European Union partners, Ross told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“A full declaration of independence would have been very problematic, would have led to obvious confrontation with Madrid and he (Catalan President Carles Puigdemont) was under enormous pressure not to declare independence, including I assume from the countries that Catalonia would look to for recognition,” said Ross.

“At the end of the day, if you’re to be independent, you need to be recognized as such.”

“I think they are only likely to get international recognition if there is a legal referendum that Madrid accepts.”

Puigdemont declared on Tuesday that Catalonia had the mandate for independence but proposed suspending sovereignty to allow for talks with Madrid on an agreed solution. On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for clarity as to whether or not Catalonia had declared independence and raised the specter of Madrid suspending the region’s autonomy.


Catalonia’s Oct. 1 referendum was declared illegal by a Spanish high court and mustered only 43 percent turnout as many independence opponents stayed at home. Hundreds of people were injured by baton-wielding police as they intervened to close polling stations.

Ross said many Catalans had been “radicalized” by Madrid’s resistance and police behavior. “Fuel has been added to the fire,” he said.

“In my view, legitimate independence can only be legitimately declared when it has a clear majority of the population. I don’t think it is right to declare independence when you don’t have that clear majority. And as things currently stand, Catalonia does not have that clear majority.”

Ross formerly headed the Middle East section of the British mission to the United Nations but resigned from the civil service in 2004 over the invasion of Iraq. His work with Independent Diplomat was the subject of the documentary Accidental Anarchist that was broadcast in July on the BBC.

Ross, who advised the Catalan government between July 2013 and September 2015 and is a committed advocate of self-determination, said it was “unrealistic” to expect a mediated solution resulting in, for instance, greater autonomy for Catalonia.

He cited the examples of Montenegro and Scotland, in which referendums were held on the basis of negotiated terms in 2006 and 2014 respectively. Montenegro narrowly voted to leave a state union with Serbia, while a majority of Scots opted to remain with Britain.

“I think that the international community should be calling for Madrid to do what Britain did with Scotland, which is to allow a legal referendum to resolve this once and for all.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has rejected a call by Puigdemont for EU mediation, but Ross said the bloc should state clearly to Madrid “that it needs to find a more consensual solution”.

Asked if the Catalans had erred in holding a referendum that Madrid did not agree to, Ross replied: “They had no other option to build up the pressure for that dialogue.”

Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Richard Balmforth

Africa NDC Dialogue Highlights The Need For Capacity Building, Finance

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 02:30


A Regional Dialogue on NDCs for Africa considered ways to enhance implementation, identify challenges and opportunities and build capacity.

Participants engaged in discussions on many topics, including on practical entry points for engagement and strategies for effective private sector involvement in NDC implementation.

They discussed how local and regional planning approaches can ensure local ownership and lasting results of the policies and measures put in place.

28 September 2017: A Regional Dialogue on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Africa aiming to support countries as they move towards the implementation stage of their NDCs explored topics related to NDC implementation. These included: experiences, best practices, opportunities and challenges in the region; capacity building gaps and needs; climate finance needs and strengthening the role of the private sector; local authority-level policies, actions and initiatives; and entry points to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into NDC implementation and planning.

Convening over three days from 26-28 September 2017, in Rabat, Morocco, the Regional Dialogue on NDCs for Africa was part of the fourth round of regional NDC dialogues. It brought together representatives from 50 African countries, international organizations and technical experts.

Participants considered, among other issues: key provisions of the Paris Agreement relating to NDCs; relevant outcomes of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC; planning for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue; and an overview of submitted Intended NDCs (INDCs) and initial NDCs, including trends from the African continent. Discussions addressed: country priorities for implementing NDCs; capacity building gaps and needs experienced by African countries in NDC implementation; and tools to improve transparency and comparability between alternative mitigation actions to implement NDCs.

Deliberations on climate finance and transparency addressed practical entry points for engagement and strategies for effective private sector involvement in NDC implementation.

Participants also considered ways to appropriately reflect the interests, concerns and priorities of local authorities, including how coordination and communication across government and non-governmental agencies can be improved. Deliberations on climate finance and transparency covered issues including: developing funding strategies to consider opportunities for mobilizing resources from national budgets and planned investments; practical entry points for engagement and strategies for effective private sector involvement in NDC implementation; the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework; and country-level experiences with measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems.

Representatives from the Governments of Morocco and Kenya, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) spoke about tools and approaches to integrate gender considerations into NDCs and national climate policies. [Regional Dialogue on NDCs for Africa Webpage] [Meeting Agenda]

Russia’s Rosatom, Morocco Sign Cooperation Agreement

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 23:25

© Donat Sorokin/TASS
Business & Economy

Rosatom and the Energy Ministry of Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Energy Ministry of Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, TASS reports from the scene on Wednesday.

The document was signed by Alexander Voronkov, Director of the Middle Eastern Office of Rosatom, and Khalid El Mediouri, Director-General of Morocco’s National Centre for Nuclear Energy, Sciences and Technology.

SDX Celebrates Gas Discovery

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:21

Energy Voice
Oil & Gas
Written by Energy Reporter

SDX today confirmed a gas discovery in its Morocco play.

The North Africa focused oil and gas company revealed a gas discovery has been made at its KSR-14 development well on the Sebou permit in Morocco, which it owns a 75% interest in.

Chief executive Paul Welch said: “This positive result follows the Company’s recent oil discovery at our West Gharib Concession in Egypt and demonstrates the real momentum developing across our portfolio.

“This outcome in Morocco is an excellent start to our nine well programme, where we are targeting an increase in our local gas sales volumes in Morocco by up to 50%. I look forward to reporting on the flow rates from today’s KSR-14 discovery and last week’s Rabul 2 discovery in the near term along with updating our shareholders on further progress on our South Disouq Development activities in due course.”

The KSR-14 well was drilled to a total depth of 1830 meters and encountered 20 meters of net conventional natural gas pay in the Guebbas and Hoot formations over 4 intervals. The initial results have exceeded pre-drill estimates, and work is currently underway to further evaluate the well’s accurate recoverable volume estimate, according to the firm.

Once the drilling rig has left the location, the Company expects that the well will be connected to the existing infrastructure and produced. The well is anticipated to be on production in approximately 30 days.

SDX is headquartered in London, England, UK, with a principal focus on North Africa. In Egypt, SDX has a working interest in two producing assets, 50% North West Gemsa & 50% Meseda, located onshore in the Eastern Desert, adjacent to the Gulf of Suez. In Morocco, SDX has a 75%.

Russian Prime Minister, Moroccan Leader To Discuss Energy, Agriculture

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 11:28


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who arrived in Morocco late on Tuesday, will hold talks with that country’s leaders to discuss cooperation in the energy and agricultural sectors and cultivating tourism, the press service of the Russian government said.

Medvedev arrived in Morocco from Algeria.

Medvedev’s two-day visit includes talks with Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani and speakers of both houses of Morocco’s parliament. “The talks will focus on the current state of and cooperation prospects in various spheres, including energy, industry, agriculture, tourism, cultural and humanitarian ties,” the government’s press service said. “It is planned to sign a number of intergovernmental, inter-ministerial and corporate agreements and documents.”

According to a government administration official, Medvedev is paying a visit to Morocco at the invitation of his Moroccan counterpart. “Russia highly appreciates the traditionally friendly relations with Morocco and attaches exceptional significance to the expansion of bilateral cooperation in various areas,” the official said.
Apart from that, a Russian-Moroccan business forum organized by the Russian Export Center will be held on the sidelines of Medvedev’s visit.

2017 Oilibya Rally Of Morocco: Hero Motorsports Rider JROD Finishes Seventh Overall, CS Santosh 15th

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 07:21


The 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco ended on October 10, 2017, on a celebratory note for Hero MotoSports Team Rally with their Portuguese rider Joaquim ‘JRod’ Rodrigues maintaining his position through the last stage despite a busted chin to finish seventh overall in the motorcycle category.

Indian rider CS Santosh recorded his best-ever finish in this rally with 15th overall, bettering his result from the previous year. The closing stage of the 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco in Erfoud was a respite and went by smoothly, while earlier stages had been affected flooded riverbeds and bad weather which led to several changes to the schedule. The final stage comprised a 180km loop in the area around Erfoud.

Maintaining his pace was even more challenging for Rodrigues who had a rough time crossing the dunes during the last stage. In the beginning, the stage was going good where I was riding at a decent pace. Then when we started crossing the dunes, I jumped over one of them and landed in the flat. I bruised my chest and my chin, and had to take five stitches,” he said. Rodrigues further said that with the bike feeling better and his seventh overall finish here, things are now looking good and the team is ready for the Rally Dakar.

Santosh too looked confident with the new rally bike. Going into this rally we knew it was going to be an important test with the new bike. I was really excited to see the evolution of our rally machine. From day one I made good progress and built up every day. I definitely did not repeat the mistakes I made last year. Back then I struggled a lot but, this year I have a better feeling with the new bike and everything is working really well,” said CS Santosh, adding that he is happy to go to Dakar feeling like this.

Meanwhile, Hero MotoSports team manager Wolfgang Fischer said he could not ask for more, with both the team motorcycles finishing the OiLibya Rally of Morocco without any technical problems. This final round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship brings us the first top ten result for Joaquim Rodrigues in a world championship event. Overall, we draw a very positive summary of the whole year’s work and preparation. We’re looking forward to the next big target, the Rally Dakar,” he said.

Provisional overall standings after stage 5
1. Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM 10:03:49 hrs
2. Kevin Benavides, ARG, Honda +13:42 min
3. Ricky Brabec, USA, Honda +16:58
4. Antoine Meo, FRA, KTM +18:27
5. Juan Pedrero, SPA, Sherco TVS +22:28
6. Pablo Quintanilla, CHI, Husqvarna +37:22
7. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero +44:29
15. CS Santosh, IND, Hero +1:49:37

France Reaffirms Polisario Will Not Take Part In EU-Africa Summit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:38

The North Africa Post

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pointed out that only sovereign states are entitled to participate in the EU-Africa Summit, to be held in Abidjan, thus making it clear that France rejects categorically the attempts by separatist proponents to impose the participation of the separatist SADR entity.

The Minister said Monday in Rabat at a joint press briefing with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, that the polisario is not eligible to represent the Sahara and has no right to partake in such a sovereign summit open only to UN member states.

Le Drian reiterated on the same occasion his country’s firm stand in support of Morocco’s autonomy proposal as a sound basis for negotiations.

He added that the UN Secretary General is called upon to take initiatives on the basis of the autonomy proposal.
“We hope that the EU-Africa summit will take place in best conditions. The choice of participating countries should be taken by consensus between sovereign states,” he added.

For his part, Bourita noted that Morocco insists on maintaining the summit will take place at a special continental context requiring collective efforts. Therefore, he warned against derailing the summit and indulging in unnecessary debates.

As it endures setbacks one after the other in its ideologically anachronistic foreign policy, Algeria indulges in terminology games claiming that the African Union and the EU are in negotiation to change the appellation of the event into EU-AU Summit in a scheme to impose the participation of its puppet Sahrawi Republic.

The fake news was propagated by the Algerian government mouthpiece, Algeria Press Service news agency, which relayed the fallacious statements of its Ambassador in Brussels, Amar Belani, saying that the Polisario will receive an invitation to attend the EU-Africa summit.

Such statements show the short memory of the Algerian diplomacy, which seems not to learn from past mistakes. Sources within the EU maintain that only countries that are member of the UN are entitled to take part in the EU-Africa summit. No decision has been made to change the name of the event that will be hosted by Abidjan on November 29-30.

Posted by North Africa Post

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Morocco Prepares To Test ‘Fastest Train In Africa’

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 17:40

News 24

Engineers in Morocco are preparing to test the Arab world’s first high-speed railway this week with trains reaching 320km/h, the country’s rail office said on Monday.

One train reached 275km/h on Monday along a stretch of track between the northern cities of Kenitra and Tangier, the ONCF said.

“This is already the fastest train on the African continent,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was in Morocco to sign a loan deal between the ONCF and the French Development Agency.

He said the railway was “emblematic of the Franco-Moroccan bilateral relationship”.

The 350km link between Casablanca and Tangiers via the capital Rabat will slash journey times between the North African country’s economic hubs by almost two thirds, to just over two hours.

Morocco’s TGV, which gets its name from the French abbreviation for high-speed trains, is set to enter service in summer 2018.

The project is 50% financed by France with loans of around $2.4bn.


It is set to go around 15% over budget, according to figures released on Monday.

But ONCF head Rabii Lakhlii said the project had cost “less than €9m/km, compared to a European standard of €20m/km”.

The route, made more complex by hilly terrain and strong winds, required the building of several viaducts including one about 3.5km long.

The ONCF expects the line to attract six million travellers within its first three years.

Lakhlii said tickets would cost about 30% more than those for the current rail link.

Moroccan leaders have heralded the project as a key step in modernising the country’s infrastructure.

But opponents have criticised it, saying the money could have been better spent in a country where many live in poverty.

They also argue that it unfairly favoured French companies.

Fourth Committee Approves 19 Draft Resolutions as It Concludes General Debate on Decolonization Questions

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:56


General Assembly Fourth Committee
Seventy-Second Session, 9th Meeting (AM)

Concluding its consideration of decolonization questions today, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved 19 draft resolutions for adoption by the General Assembly, 5 of them by recorded vote.

Taking up the draft resolution titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.114), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 40 abstentions.

By the terms of that draft, the General Assembly would urge administering Powers to effectively safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources. The Assembly would, by other terms, call upon the administering Powers concerned to terminate military activities and eliminate military bases in the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories under their administration, in compliance with the relevant resolutions.

The Committee also approved a draft resolution titled “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.42) by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).

By that text, the General Assembly would request that the administering Powers concerned, in accordance with their Charter obligations, transmit or continue to transmit regularly to the Secretary‑General for information purposes, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories under their respective responsibility, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.

Also requiring a recorded vote was a draft resolution titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.47). The Committee approved it by a recorded 104 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 50 abstentions.

By its terms, the General Assembly would recommend that all States intensify their efforts, through United Nations specialized agencies and other entities, to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and other relevant resolutions. It would also urge specialized agencies and organizations that had not yet provided assistance to Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible. Further by the text, the Assembly would request that the Secretary‑General continue to assist those agencies and organizations in working out appropriate implementation measures for relevant United Nations resolutions, and to prepare for submission to the relevant bodies a report on the implementation action taken.

Also today, the Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Rwanda, Togo) — a draft resolution titled “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.112).

By that text, the General Assembly would — while stressing the importance of visiting missions of the Special Committee on Decolonization contributing substantially to the dissemination of information on decolonization — request that the Department of Public Information continue its efforts to update web‑based information on assistance programmes available to Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. It would also request that the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Public Information implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Decolonization and continue their efforts through all available media.

Acting without a vote, the Committee also approved draft resolutions on the following individual Non‑Self‑Governing Territories: Gibraltar, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, French Polynesia, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

The Assembly also approved, without a vote, a draft on Western Sahara, by which it would call upon parties and States of the region to cooperate with the Secretary‑General and his Personal Envoy in efforts to resolve the dispute over that Territory. It would also welcome the parties’ commitment to work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations.

Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved a text on offers of study and training for inhabitants of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories.

In other business today, the Committee concluded its general debate on decolonization issues, hearing from representatives of Vanuatu, Botswana, Morocco and Algeria.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 11 October, to begin its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

General Debate

ODO TEVI (Vanuatu) said the fate of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories remained unresolved and expressed hope that their aspirations would be realized in the near future. Concerning New Caledonia, he noted that the proposed referendum on that Territory’s self‑determination under the Nouméa Accord was scheduled to take place in 2018, but 20,000 New Caledonians remained excluded from the electoral roll. On French Polynesia, he said his delegation would like to see it remain on the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. Regarding Western Sahara, he said Vanuatu was in full support of the ongoing political process, which was exclusively under the oversight of the United Nations Secretary‑General.

EDGAR SISA (Botswana) expressed regret that despite the Secretary‑General’s efforts to resolve the Western Sahara question, the Sahrawi continued to be denied their inalienable right to self‑determination and independence. Emphasizing the importance of reviving the negotiation process and improving those people’s living conditions, he encouraged all parties to approach the negotiations in a spirit of tolerance, compromise and good faith. He also urged the international community to continue supporting efforts to hold the self‑determination referendum in that Territory, including by creating an environment conducive to the vote.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) called for the General Assembly to stop examining the issue of Western Sahara, thereby allowing his country to conduct the negotiation process leading to a mutually acceptable solution. The question was not one of decolonization, he emphasized, explaining that Morocco’s recovery of its territory from colonial Powers had been gradual and based on negotiated agreements. Recalling that the Frente Polisario had not existed in 1965, he said it thus could not claim any rights over Western Sahara. Algeria had only raised the principle of autonomy in order to prevent Morocco from recovering its territory, he said. General Assembly resolution 1541 stipulated that self‑determination could never apply to a part or region of a sovereign State, and usually applied only to a group that was ethnically and linguistically distinct from the administering State, he recalled. By contrast, Sahara was a geographic continuity of Morocco, Arabic was spoken there, Islam was practised, its culture and traditions were the same, and its tribes were aligned in allegiance to the Moroccan King.

He went on reiterate that Algeria had distorted the principle of self‑determination when it had insisted on a referendum in Western Sahara, pointing out that such a mechanism was not enshrined in General Assembly resolutions 1514 or 1541, and even less in resolution 2625, all of which constituted the cornerstones of that principle. “The option of a referendum is definitively a non‑starter for Sahara,” he emphasized, pointing out that for the past 17 years, the Security Council had decided that a political resolution through dialogue was preferable to a referendum. Regrettably, Morocco’s good faith efforts at negotiations had been met with intransigence by Algeria, which was responsible for the failure of peace efforts to date, he said, adding that Algeria remained opposed to a census in the Tindouf camps. That country must resume its full responsibility and sit at the negotiating table, a view that was shared by several envoys of the Secretary‑General, he said. Contrary to the despair of people in the Tindouf camps, Morocco offered hope in the southern provinces, he added.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said that while his country’s name had been mentioned more than 40 times in the preceding statement, he would speak only about Western Sahara and not Morocco. Citing the United Nations Charter, he said “we tend to forget it, overlook it”, in reference to the need to respect other nations, the right to self‑determination and the right of people to choose their own government. It was with bitterness and frustration that the international community was still debating colonialism in 2017, he said, adding that it was also truly appalling that there were still 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories.

There could be no discussion over the merits of colonialism and domination, he continued, expressing hope that “there is some consciousness being built here”. He asked: “Are we going to celebrate colonialism in 50 years?” Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., he said: “The time is always right to do something right.” No difference of opinion on colonization could legitimately exist, he emphasized, urging the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly to speak up. Colonialism was a man‑made system that must be ended, he declared.

He went on to affirm that the dispute over Western Sahara was indeed a decolonization issue, describing it as the last unsolved question of colonialism in Africa, having been on the Committee’s agenda for more than 54 years. The legal status of Western Sahara “suffers no ambiguity,” he said, recalling that the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice concluded that there were no legal ties between Western Sahara and the two concerned neighbouring countries. All United Nations resolutions adopted by both the General Assembly and the Security Council reaffirmed, continuously and constantly, the legal nature of the conflict, he stressed, also citing various other United Nations and African Union resolutions and decisions on Western Sahara.

Welcoming the appointment of the Secretary‑General’s new Personal Envoy, he reaffirmed his country’s steadfast support for his efforts in moving the negotiating process forward. The African Union remained engaged in efforts to find a solution to the dispute, mobilizing African and United Nations efforts on the negotiating process and stressing the urgent need to address the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara. Algeria remained committed to resolving the dispute, he said, emphasizing that there was no alternative to the United Nations doctrine on decolonization. Quoting José Martí, he declared: “We are free, but not to be evil, not to be indifferent to human suffering.” Addressing the Chair, he added: “I admire your fairness and commitment to treat everyone equally.” He requested that those remarks of praise, made publicly and directly, be noted in the meeting, as the press communiqué had suggested otherwise. “Our words are the ones you have heard and not the ones written,” he said.

Action on Draft Resolutions

Taking up several draft resolutions, the Committee Chair began by noting that, considering recent natural disasters, especially hurricanes, there was concern that the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories in the Caribbean region were not receiving enough attention. He therefore proposed postponing consideration of the draft resolution “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.44), saying the Special Committee wished to discuss the inclusion of additional language to support those Territories given the extraordinary hurricane‑related events. There were no objections to that proposal.

Moving to take action on all 19 remaining draft resolutions, the Committee first approved a text on “Information from Non‑Self‑Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.42) by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in explanation of position, said her country continued to meet its obligations to its overseas Territories but believed that the decision as to whether Non‑Self‑Governing Territories had reached sufficient development for self‑determination was for that Territory and its administering Power and not for the General Assembly.

Taking up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.47), the Committee approved it by a recorded 104 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 50 abstentions.

The representative of the United Kingdom reaffirmed her delegation’s support for specialized agencies in the humanitarian, technology and other fields, but cautioned that the statutes of those agencies must be carefully respected. The United Kingdom had therefore abstained.

The representative of Argentina said the text should have been applied in accordance with the relevant decisions of the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and Special Committee on Decolonization.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.6).

The representative of Cuba, making a general statement, pointed out that only 9 out of 193 Member States had informed the Committee about any of their contributions to the development of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, a matter that Cuba insisted needed greater attention. In addition to its timely response to the request for information, Cuba had sent an update in August, reporting on the numbers of graduates from Western Sahara who had been studying public health and other subjects in the country. Cuba had provided 38 fellowships in various specialities during the current academic year, and in spite of the consequences of the criminal and unjust trade blockade imposed on the country by the United States, the Government was making efforts to contribute further, he said, reiterating the need for greater attention to that subject.

The Committee then approved that draft resolution without a vote.

The Committee then took up the agenda item “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”, containing draft resolutions on each individual Non‑Self‑Governing Territory.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union on Western Sahara, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s commitment to relaunching the negotiating process in accordance with Charter principles, as well as the appointment of his Personal Envoy and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2351 (2017) to relaunch the political process. The parties must demonstrate the political will to enter the new negotiations in good faith and without preconditions, she said, welcoming the return of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to full functionality and urging the international community to provide it with critical resources and funding.

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on the Gibraltar question, expressed great regret that the Special Committee on Decolonization continued its outdated approach, failing to take into account the ways in which the United Kingdom had modernized its relationship with its overseas Territories. Those living there had all freely chosen to retain their link with the United Kingdom, she emphasized.

The Committee then took up the draft resolutions relating to the following individual Territories: Western Sahara (document A/C.4/72/L.5*); Gibraltar (document A/C.4/72/L.7); American Samoa (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.52); Anguilla (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.57); Bermuda (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.61); British Virgin Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.65); Cayman Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.69); French Polynesia (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.73); Montserrat (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.81); Pitcairn (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.91); Saint Helena (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.95); Tokelau (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.99); Turks and Caicos Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.102); and the United States Virgin Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.107).

It approved them all without a vote.

The Chair noted that action on the New Caledonia and Guam draft resolutions had been postponed in order to add statements delivered during the hearing of petitioners, expressing hope that the task would be completed in a timely manner. Going through each draft resolution may seem repetitive, but it was a good method which must remain, he said.

The Committee then took up the draft “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.112), approving it by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Rwanda, Togo).

The representative of the United Kingdom, in explanation of position, said that placing the obligation to publish decolonization issues on the Secretariat represented an unacceptable drain on United Nations resources.

The representative of Argentina said that, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the text under consideration should be applied according to previous relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Special Committee. All pronouncements on the Malvinas[1] qualified it as a special and particular situation, representing a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom as the only parties. Therefore, the only way to resolve the dispute would be a renewal of bilateral negotiations to reach a fair solution, he emphasized.

Finally, the Committee took up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.114).

The representative of Australia said his country was a strong supporter of the right of the peoples of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to self‑determination and had consistently supported the draft in previous sessions. Regrettably, however, Australia would now vote against the text because its operative paragraph 14 called for terminating military activities and closing military bases and could not be accepted, he said. Such activities need not contradict the interests of peoples of the Territories, and in many cases they were beneficial, he said, citing the Pacific region, where France, Australia and New Zealand coordinated forces and fought transnational crime and illegal fishing. Australia looked forward to the removal of that language from future iterations of the draft resolution so that it could continue to vote in its favour.

The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 40 abstentions.

The representative of the United Kingdom said her country continued to find some elements of the text unacceptable and had again voted against it. Despite that vote, however, the United Kingdom remained committed to modernizing its relationship with its overseas Territories.

The representative of Spain said her country had abstained, but that did not mean it did not support the principle of self‑determination. However, that was not the only relevant principle on decolonization issues, she said, noting that in the case of sovereignty disputes, such as Gibraltar, territorial integrity was also relevant. She added that visiting missions could only be sent to Territories to which the self‑determination principle applied, not where there were sovereignty disputes. Any such mission must be approved by the General Assembly, she stressed.

The representative of Argentina said that visiting missions only proceeded where free determination applied and where there was no dispute over sovereignty, emphasizing that the Special Committee was clear on that matter. Visiting missions must be considered on a case‑by‑case basis and take place in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, he said, emphasizing that if a visiting mission were to take place, it must be approved by the General Assembly.

The representative of Belgium said her country was a strong supporter of the rights of the peoples of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, and its abstention was due to its concern about operative paragraph 14 on military activities, which were especially important during natural catastrophes.

The representative of the United States spoke in explanation of position on several draft resolutions, saying her delegation was proud to support the right to self‑determination, but the texts under consideration placed too much weight on independence as a one‑size-fits-all option.

The Territories could speak for themselves, he emphasized. In addition, operative paragraph 14 of the draft “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” included an outdated call for the termination of all military activities and bases in Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, she noted. The United States had a right to carry out such activities in its own interest and it was facile to assume that they were incompatible with the rights of the people of those Territories. The long‑standing view of the United States was that the right of self‑determination was to be exercised by the whole people of a Non‑Self‑Governing Territory, not just one part, she said, adding that that right must be consistent with human rights obligations and non‑discrimination as well as universal and equal suffrage.

[1] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.