Western sahara Major events

The Sun Shines On Historic Capital Of Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 11:00

The straits Times
photo: European Press Photo Agency

Moroccans and tourists took advantage of beautiful summer weather to enjoy the beach in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday.

Tourists seduced by the exoticism of Marrakesh and Fez often unfairly neglect Morocco’s lesser-known capital, reported The Telegraph.

Rabat, which is located about 300km from Marrakesh and sits at the mouth of the River Bou Regreg, has fine public beaches and a 12th-century kasbah, or citadel, perched over the water.

Morocco welcomed about three million tourists during the first four months of this year, and is set to see an increase of about 10 per cent over the same period last year.

Tourism remains a vital pillar of the Moroccan economy and is the country’s second-biggest employer, after agriculture. The sector accounts for 10 per cent of national income and, along with exports and remittances from Moroccans overseas, is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency, according to Agence France-Presse.

Maroc Telecom H1 Revenues Fall 5% To MAD 10 Bln In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 15:23

Telecompaper

Maroc Telecom’s revenues in Morocco decreased by 5.1 percent to MAD 10.07 billion in the first six months to 30 June from MAD 10.62 billion in the same period in 2016, affected by the reintroduction of asymmetric call termination rates in March and the deregulation of IP telephony in November 2016. The fixed line and mobile outbound service revenues increased by 2.3 percent, driven by the success of high-speed offers.

EBITDA declined by 5.6 percent to MAD 5.36 billion from MAD 5.67 billion in 2016 as a result of lower revenues.

The EBITDA margin shrank by 0.3 percentage points to 53.1 percent, with a 0.5 percentage points improvement in the gross margin ratio and to a 2.3 percent decrease in operating expenses following the departure of 1,026 employees. The adjusted operating income was MAD 3.49 billion with a margin of 34.7 percent, down 1.4 percentage points as result of the fall in EBITDA and the increase of 1.5 percent in depreciation charge after an important investment programme.

The adjusted cash flow from operations in Morocco was MAD 3.09 billion, down by 9.3 percent due to the decrease in EBITDA amid lower mobile call termination rates, the deregulation of IP telephony and a 15.5 percent increase in investment, driven by the acceleration in the roll-out of 4G+. The mobile customer base reached 18.4 million on 30 June, an increase of 1.3 percent in one year, with 3.7 percent growth in postpaid and 1.0 percent in the prepaid subscriber base.

King Salman, Emir Of Qatar Family To Vacation In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 13:45

ANSAmed Italy

King Salman of Saudi Arabia will spend his August holidays in the northwestern Morocco port town of Tangier for the third year running.

The king, who recently severed his country’s diplomatic ties with Qatar, is expected to arrive in the country on Monday.

Despite the diplomatic crisis, the Saudi royal family will be vacationing not far from emir of Qatar’s family, which chose the inland mountainous town of Ifran, less than 400 kilometres away, for its holidays.

King Salman will make his a working holiday, but he has left the kingdom in the hands of his son, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, who was named on June 21 as heir to the throne.

The Moroccan government has chosen to remain neutral in the face of the diplomatic crisis with Qatar.

Two jets are expected to arrive at the Ibn Battouta Airport in Tangier from Jeddah on Monday evening, one with King Salman and his delegation aboard, and the other carrying his wife and part of his family.

The Saudi royal family has reserved 924 hotel rooms, for around 1,000 guests total; the large number of guests has made it impossible to find accommodations in 5-star hotels in the city for the entire month of August.

The delegation also had to comb auto dealerships in Marrakech, Rabat, and Casablanca to provide all of the 453 luxury cars it required.

Preparations in Tangier for the delegation’s arrival have been underway for about two weeks, since the time that the kitchen, cleaning, and ceremonial staff of 143 men and women arrived in the royal family’s luxurious estate with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. (ANSAmed).

Maghreb Future Is Tied To Resolving Western Sahara Conflict

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 12:37

Middle East Online
By Saad Guerraoui – LONDON

The political crisis in Libya is also hampering its ties with neighbouring countries.

Foreign Ministers from the AMU attend 34th Council of the organisation in Tunis.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) slammed the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) for failing to ensure the free movement of goods in a free trade area that would span the wide North African region that in­cludes Morocco, Mauritania, Alge­ria, Tunisia and Libya.

“It is crazy that goods need to transit between these neighbours via the French port of Marseilles when they could simply cross over by land,” wrote Wadia Ait Hamza, head of Social Engagement — The Americas, in a paper posted on the World Economic Forum website.

Founded in 1989, the AMU is a pact seeking to establish economic and political integration between member countries.

The last planned summit origi­nally scheduled for May 26, 2005, was postponed indefinitely because of Morocco’s refusal to take part in it due to Algeria’s vocal support for Sahrawi independence. Analysts said that longstanding political disa­greements between Morocco and Algeria regarding the Western Saha­ra conflict besides the political crisis in war-torn Libya were hampering the union’s economic progress.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and maintains it is an inte­gral part of the kingdom. Algerian-backed Polisario Front separatists began an armed conflict with Mo­rocco for an independent state that lasted until the United Nations bro­kered a ceasefire in 1991.

Rabat has proposed a form of autonomy under Moroccan sover­eignty for the territory. The proposal was rejected by the Polisario Front, which insists on the right of the Sah­rawi people to self-determination in a UN-monitored vote.

Algeria denies involvement in the Western Sahara issue although its leaders are suspected of playing a key role in it.

In February, Moroccan King Mo­hammed VI warned that the AMU would crumble if its incapacity to live up to the ambitions of the 1989 agreement continued.

“Today, we regret to see that the Arab Maghreb Union is the least in­tegrated region in the African con­tinent, if not in the whole world. Intra-regional trade has reached 10% between ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] countries and 19% between SADC [Southern African Development Community] countries, while it is still stagnating at less than 3% be­tween Maghreb countries,” King Mohammed VI said.

Trade within the AMU is the low­est of any region in the world, aver­aging $200 million per year between the five countries. This accounts for 3% of the bloc’s total trade. The European Union accounts for more than 60% of the bloc’s total trade.

Mohamed Amine Mansouri Id­rissi, the general manager of Af­rique Strategie in Morocco, said it is “heartbreaking” that two neigh­bouring countries trade through a third party.

“Why do we have to make some­one else, who doesn’t create any added value, benefit from trade be­tween Morocco and Algeria?” asked Idrissi, adding that the third party could make much higher profits than Moroccan exporters, a policy that harms Algerian consumers.

Ali Bahaijoub, director of the Cen­tre for Euro-Mediterranean and Afri­can Studies, said that the AMU crisis was mainly due to the political stale­mate between Morocco and Algeria over Western Sahara.

“As long as the army rules in Alge­ria, the crisis between the two coun­tries will not be resolved,” Bahaijoub said.

“There is a political vacuum in Al­geria that is jeopardising the future of the region.

“It is better for Morocco to trade with other economic zones rather than wait for Algeria to open its bor­ders, which have been closed since 1994,” he added.

Algeria closed its land border with Morocco in 1994 after Rabat insti­tuted visa regulations on Algerian tourists following a terrorist attack on the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrake­ch that killed two Spanish tourists. Morocco accused Algeria of being involved in the attack.

The political crisis in Libya is also hampering its ties with neighbour­ing countries. Huwaida Elfnayesh, a professor at Tripoli University’s School of Law, said “recent events in the Arab countries, represented by the ‘Arab spring’ revolutions, contributed to widening the gap between the union countries, espe­cially in terms of security.”

“Each country tries to secure its borders from the infiltration of ‘extremist fighters’ as well as the absence of a government in Libya. All these things have brought the union back to the scratch,” said Elf­nayesh.

“The problem of the Moroccan Sahara is still between Algeria and Morocco. Moreover, the collapse of the state in Libya and its civil war directly affects the countries of the union given that common borders with Tunisia and Algeria and the geographical location of Libya in the heart of the union, where Morocco has hosted the negotiations of the Libyan parties in the so-called ‘Skhi­rat’ under the auspices of the United Nations, but the peace process is still long, which is reflected nega­tively on any attempt to revive the Union.”

The WEF called for the opening of borders between AMU members to ensure the free movement of goods and people.

Economic analyst Atman Dkhissi said the WEF’s statement about the AMU is not something new.

“AMU members need to put aside their political problems to enhance trade between them that would boost employment in the region,” said Dkhissi, echoing Bahaijoub’s re­mark that the AMU’s future is tied to resolving the Western Sahara issue.

“Before the border closure, east­ern Morocco’s economy greatly de­pended on Algerian tourists’ spend­ing,” said Dkhissi.

Ali Hamza highlighted the Maghreb countries’ complementary economic conditions. While Tunisia and Morocco specialise in services and agriculture, Libya and Algeria have significant natural resources.

AMU Secretary-General Taieb Baccouche told Jeune Afrique maga­zine on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa “the fact that I have not yet had discus­sions with these two heads of state (Moroccan and Algerian leaders) since taking up my duties does not refer to any official position with regard to the AMU or with regard to myself.”

He said he was waiting for the AMU foreign ministers’ summit lat­er this year to present a new strategy before presenting it to various coun­tries’ leaders.

As for the political crisis between Morocco and Algeria, Baccouche ex­pressed his optimism about an im­provement in the future.

“I think reconciliation will come. We should not give up,” he said.

Elfnayesh was less than hopeful about the project’s future.

“Despite the great ambition of the Maghreb integration project, the reality proved its failure in all re­spects, as all the economic, political and security indicators show,” she said.

“Unfortunately, there are no quick solutions that could push the union ahead, with the many problems that surfaced on a daily basis — includ­ing the Libyan crisis — which led to the almost permanent closure of the border between most of its coun­tries after the ‘Arab spring’ and the anxiety of terrorism has dominated the governments of the region.”

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

Colas Has Won A Construction Contract To Extend A Tramway Line In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 12:32

Thé Construction index

Société du Tramway de Rabat-Salé (STRS) has appointed a consortium of Colas Rail and its Morocco-based road construction subsidiary, GTR, to build the extension of Line 2 of the Rabat-Salé tramway. This extension will connect Rabat’s Yacoub El Mansour district and Salé’s new hospital to the tramway network.

The €29m (£26m) contract includes installing the tram platforms, laying rails and installing rail signalling equipment over a total distance of 7km. Colas will also add an additional storage track to the Hay Karima depot and relocate the tram stop serving Salé train station.

Construction work will start next month and the line extension is scheduled to start running in the second half of 2019.

UN: Moroccan Peacekeeper Killed, Three Wounded In CAR

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 12:19

Al Jazeera
News Central African Republic
Source: AFP news agency

The UN blamed pro-Christian armed groups for the shootings in the southern Central African Republic city of Bangassou.

The UN’s 12,500-strong MINUSCA peacekeeping mission is tasked with protecting civilians from armed groups which continue to flourish [File: Reuters]

An ambush killed a Moroccan peacekeeper and wounded three others on Sunday in the Central African Republic, the United Nations said, blaming pro-Christian armed groups for the violence.

“A MINUSCA (peacekeeping mission) military convoy was targeted by Anti-balaka,” it said of the clash in the southern city of Bangassou.

The country is struggling to emerge from a civil war that erupted in 2013 following the overthrow of former President Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka coalition.

The coup led to the formation of “Anti-balaka” vigilante units, drawn from the Christian majority, which began to target Muslims. Both sides committed widespread atrocities.

OPINION: World’s most neglected conflict rages on in the CAR

“The attack took place while the Moroccan peacekeepers were escorting water tankers to the river to help resupply the village,” the MINUSCA force said on Sunday, condemning the assault and sending “condolences to the family, the people and the government of Morocco”.

Earlier on Sunday, the UN condemned an “attack by Anti-balaka near a cathedral where a number of displaced people are living”. Two children were seriously wounded, it said.

Morocco Tops Maghreb Countries In Attracting Foreign Investment

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 02:26

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

Morocco has topped Maghreb countries in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), local media reported on Sunday.

Citing a report by the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, the Moroccan financial daily L’Economiste said the North African kingdom attracted 2.3 billion U.S. dollars worth of FDI in 2016.

According to the report, Morocco overtook its neighboring Maghreb nations such as Algeria with 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, Tunisia with 958 million U.S. dollars and Libya with 493 million U.S. dollars worth of FDI in 2016.

Among Arab countries, Morocco came at fifth after the Unite Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

It noted that Arab countries drained some 30.8 billion U.S. dollars worth of FDI in 2016, a 25 percent increase compared to a year earlier.

Morocco, China Sign Deal To Build Africa’s Tallest Skyscraper In Rabat

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 02:16

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

A Chinese firm has signed a deal with Moroccan companies to build the tallest skyscraper in Africa in the capital of Morocco, local media reported on Sunday.

The deal was concluded in Casablanca by China Railway Construction Corporation and Morocco’s BMCE Bank of Africa and Travaux Generaux de Construction de Casablanca, Morocco’s leading construction company, le360.ma news site said.

The 55-storey tower will reach 250 meters high, with the adoption of ecological and sustainable design concepts. It will include offices, hotels and luxury apartments, according to the report.

The tower will be the highlight of a large-scale project to develop the Bouregreg valley in Rabat, a key component of the 2014-2018 Integrated Development Program dubbed “Rabat, City of Light, Moroccan Cultural Capital.”

The new project also involves the construction of several innovative facilities, including the Grand Theatre of Rabat, the Arts and Culture House, the National Archives of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Archaeological Museum.

Morocco, Britain Sign MoU On Civil Aviation Security

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:36

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

Morocco and Britain have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on civil aviation security, the official MAP news agency reported on Friday.

Initiated by minister of tourism, Mohamed Sajid, and the Charge d’Affaires at the British Embassy in Rabat, William Hopkinson, the agreement will further develop cooperation in the field of civil aviation security, the report said.

This goal will be achieved through exchange of experiences and expertise, particularly in the field of new technologies, the organization of training activities, exchange of visits and the evaluation of security measures applied at the two countries’ airports, it pointed out.

The two sides also agreed to combine their efforts and consolidate their relations in the field of civil aviation security.

This cooperation will further strengthen Morocco’s privileged position in the North African region for its security and economic stability and further enhance its image as an attractive tourist destination.

France 24 Apologizes For Airing Images Of Violence From Venezuela Purporting They Happened In Al Hoceima

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 01:54

The North Africa Post

France 24 TV channel has apologized following protests by Morocco after the channel broadcasted images of protests in Venezuela purporting they happened in Morocco’s northern town of Al Hoceima.

The French news broadcaster said the images were a technical failure that was addressed in the following news hour.

Morocco’s ministerial department in charge of the foreign press, The Ministry of Culture and Communication, deplored the airing of images having nothing to do with the circumstances in Al Hoceima adding that it took note of France 24 apology.

Morocco’s Culture and Communication Minister Mohamed Laarej has demanded in a letter, apologies from the French media group, which includes France 24, RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya.

“That footage, which presented Venezuelan protesters as young Moroccans chased by law enforcement elements in Al Hoceima in northern Morocco sought sewing confusion and misleading the TV channel’s viewers,” the minister said in his letter.

France 24 broadcasted images from Venezuela on July 13 depicting protesters trying to hide from security forces firing at them. The scene was shown during a program on Al Hoceima hosting lawyer Mohammed Ziane, a member of the defense team representing detained Rif protesters.

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.

Sound Energy Details Morocco Exploration Plans Following Tendrara Successes

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 20:30

by Jamie Ashcroft

Chief executive James Parsons says the rest of 2017 will see a busy operational period for Sound Energy.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) has outlined its plans for the newly defined Anoual and Matarka exploration areas in the vicinity of its successful Tendrara gas project in eastern Morocco.

New exploration licences are being issued as the group completes its acquisition deal agreed previously with partner OGIF – which also gives the company a larger position in Tendrara.

Sound plans to undertake geophysical surveying and preliminary exploration operations, including seismic, ahead of future wells in the new exploration areas.

READ: Sound Energy confirms Tendrara development concept is intact

“Following the recent confirmation of the plan for Tendrara development with the successful TE7 pressure build up, I am very pleased to report excellent progress on the OGIF acquisition and our geophysical programme,” said James Parsons, Sound Energy chief executive.

“We, together with our strategic partner Schlumberger, are opening a new hydrocarbon province in Eastern Morocco, which we absolutely expect to be transformational for both Sound Energy and Morocco.”

Parsons said the agreements for the new Anoual and Matarka licences will further strengthen the group’s regional position.

“In the meantime, we look forward to updating shareholders on our future drilling plans in Eastern Morocco and the extended well test in Southern Morocco, and to continuing to advance the company’s position in the region.

“We expect the third and fourth quarters to be a busy operational period.”

Tendrara stake increases

Sound confirmed that with its successful recent well programme at Tendrara, it has already satisfied the commitments of both the first and second complimentary periods under its licence agreement, and it now expects to secure a new eight-year licence for the project in 2018.

The company’s next work at Tendrara will involve a Full Tensor Gravity (FTG) gradiometry survey and 2D seismic programme, both of which will be paid for by Schlumberger under its partnership agreement.

Presently, Sound owns a 75% stake in Tendrara which is effectively shared with Schlumberger, with the AIM-quoted firm retaining 47.5% of the asset.

The acquisition deal sees Sound issuing OGIF some 272mln new Sound Energy shares.

Once it is complete, Sound will acquire a further 20% stake in Tendrara, and it will secure the rights to acquire a 75% stake in the Meridja exploration area and a 75% stake in previously relinquished areas close to Tendrara.

Anoual exploration area

The area presently called Meridja will in future be known as the Anoual exploration area. Sound will retain 47.5% of Anoual, once it assigns Schlumberger 27.5%.

Anoual will be subject to an eight-year exploration permit, for an area spanning 8,863 square kilometres.

During an initial three year period. the company will be required to carry out an FTG-aerogradiometry programme, plus acquire 600 kilometres of 2D seismic and 150 square kilometres of 3D seismic.

A subsequent period of two years and six months, will require one exploration well (to test a Triassic objective). Then, a second well will be required under the terms for a third period of two-and-a-half years.

Sound has the option to drill these well ahead of schedule, and they will still count against its obligations.

Matarka exploration area

The relinquished areas will be known as the Matarka exploration area.

Initially, the company will have a one-year reconnaissance licence and it will have to deliver an FTG survey.

After that the group will have the right to apply for a longer exploration licence.

Tendrara programmes

Sound told investors it expects Schlumberger (which is paying for and carrying out the work) will undertake a number of geophysical surveys – including FTG, Scalar Gravity, Magnetics and LiDAR surveys.

This work will start in July. It will span some 24,000 square kilometres, and it will inform a basin scale model to evaluate Paleozoic and Triassic petroleum systems and the basin’s potential. It is expected to be a three month programme, with a full interpretation of the data anticipated in November.

The findings will support planning for the future seismic programmes.

Schlumberger is expected to start the 2D seismic in the first half of next year. The exploration programme will be split into three parcelled areas, likely starting with an area in the Tendrara/Anoual border area where the partners want to better define structural leads.

Subsequently, once all seismic is complete, the company intends to upgrade exploration prospects into its inventory, which will be assessed further via a new competent persons report.

This will be part of a programme to advance the Tendrara resources ahead of a final investment decision for the anticipated Tendrara development project.

Polisario’s new diversion to put pressure on the UN, Morocco

Sahara News - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 13:12
The Polisario announced the arrest last Sunday, to the east of the Moroccan defense wall in the Sahara, of 19 Moroccan civilians, accusing them of serving as mules (individual carriers) for drug dealers.  The 19 Moroccans were arrested, according to a statement from the so-called ” Ministry of Defense” in the locality of Aghchan Lbyad, […]

Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech Reopens In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 02:01

Breaking Travel News

A six year, US$100 million renaissance orchestrated by Parisian interior designer Studio MHNA has brought the age of Morocco’s Saadian dynasty to architectural life in the dramatic form of the new landmark Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech.

Comprehensively reconfigured as a modern reinterpretation of the traditional architectural hallmarks found in noble Moroccan mansions of the 16th century, the hotel’s design features include a central fountain, cloistered gardens and peripheral double gallery, while the iconic interiors feature contemporary variations on traditional Moroccan decorative arts.

Inspired by the notional journey of a nomad discovering the refuge of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi, sultan of the Saadian dynasty from 1578 to 1603, Studio MHNA’s innovative design draws guests through a series of differing, complementary spaces, to the majestic central ‘oasis’ or lobby.

On arrival, guests are plunged into the world of an imaginary oasis, passing through a promenade lined with gardens; various inviting lounges, fountains and water features; an ‘airlock’ overlooking a monumental door; and finally a majestic lobby with the ‘oasis’ at its heart.

Modern techniques have been applied to many traditional Moroccan design features to create several remarkable signature pieces.

A dramatic wall of 3D mashrabiyas, or latticework panels, was made using laser cut metals.

A backlit wall of mother-of-pearl provides a stunning contemporary showcase for the ancient mosaic techniques of local craftsman.

Crowning the lobby, beneath a cupola, is a magnificent nine metre high chandelier, made using a high-tech stamping technique from the aeronautical industry.

Ambient lighting includes a stunning feature wall adorned with 1,200 bespoke LED lamps, developed especially over two years by Studio MHNA to recreate the luminous flicker of candlelight – conjuring not just a magical warm atmosphere, but also significant reductions in energy consumption.

With the hotel adjoining the city’s largest and most important convention centre, the Palais des Congrès, Studio MHNA also had to ensure its design was suitable to simultaneously accommodate two very different types of guests, providing an equally appropriate and warm welcome for leisure and business clientele.

In order to achieve this, two distinct guest journeys were created, each taking its own path to a separate, dedicated lobby.

Each type of clientele is thus able to enjoy a tailored, privileged welcome experience: the group lobby is designed to smoothly manage large flows of people, whilst the individual guest lobby offers a more private service.

Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech reopened in October 2016 under the management of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts after completing an extensive renovation and expansion programme.

Inspired by the vision and achievements of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi, Sultan of the Saadian dynasty, the hotel is a contemporary oasis from the enchanting buzz of the Red City, just a few minutes’ walk from the bustling Medina in the central L’Hivernage district, and only 15 minutes’ drive from Marrakech Menara Airport.

Morocco Sentences 23 Over Western Sahara Killings

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 01:41

eNCA News
AFP

A Moroccan court sentenced 23 Sahrawis on Wednesday to prison terms ranging from two years to life over the killing of 11 members of the Moroccan security forces in contested Western Sahara.

The verdict in the case, which has been closely followed by human rights campaigners, was delivered at dawn by the Court of Appeals in Sale near Rabat, the official news agency MAP reported.

Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front independence movement have accused each other of provoking the deadly clashes between police and Sahrawi protesters at a camp for displaced people in Gdeim Izik in November 2010.

In 2013 a military court sentenced the defendants to jail terms ranging from 20 years to life.

International rights groups condemned that trial as “unfair” and in July the Court of Cassation ordered a civilian court to examine the case.

Morocco says Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony mostly controlled by Rabat, is an integral part of the kingdom.

The Polisario Front demands a referendum on self-determination for the territory.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch this week issued a joint plea for the Moroccan authorities to ensure the verdict in the trial was not based on confessions or statements “obtained under torture or other ill-treatment during police interrogations”.

The NGO Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture has criticised what it called an “unfair trial” that took into account “confessions signed under torture”.

In May, the defendants and their lawyers announced they would no longer attend the trial, alleging “irregularities”.

The Moroccan authorities have sought to underline what they called the “transparency” and “fairness” of the civil trial, which was open to the press and international observers.

Sound Energy Reports “Strong” Pressure Build Up At Morocco Well

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 16:29

London South East
By Maryam Cockar

LONDON (Alliance News) – Sound Energy PLC said on Wednesday its TE-7 well has demonstrated “very strong” pressure recovery to date at the Tendara reservoir in Morocco.

The London-listed upstream gas company said the pressure build up of the well is currently ongoing and pressure stabilisation is estimated to require a further six to eight months.

Reservoir simulations by Sound Energy have suggested that, once the reservoir has reached full pressure stabilisation, the connected gas volumes in place for production from TE-7 would be around 40.00 billion standard cubic feet.

Sound Energy said this is consistent with its preliminary volume estimates from May and allows the company to confirm a field development concept with regular spacing of sub horizontal stimulated wells at Tendara, which would be similar in design to well TE-7.

Following the extended well test on TE-7 during a draw down phase, the bottom hole pressure was recorded at 393.8 bar, a metric unit of pressure, against a final drawdown flowing reservoir pressure in January of 140 bar immediately following the test and an original reservoir pressure of 422.6 bar.

In January the company flowed close to 1.00 billion cubic feet over 56 days during the drawdown phase and Sound Energy said it has retrieved the downhole pressure gauges from TE-7 to analyse the initial reservoir pressure response.

Shares in Sound Energy were up 0.5% to 49.50 pence on Wednesday.

By Maryam Cockar; maryamcockar@alliancenews.com; @MaryamCockar

Moroccan Cement Sales Down By 31% In June

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 07/18/2017 - 00:47

Cement News
By ICR Newsroom

The Moroccan cement market contracted in June by 30.6 per cent YoY to 721,846t from 1,039,544Mt in June 2016, according to the country’s Ministry of Housing. The drop in sales was attributed to a slowdown in construction activity.

In the first half of 2017, demand decreased 9.24 per cent to 6,771,681t with all parts of country seeing a drop in sales, apart from a few southern provinces.

The largest MoM decline was reported in the eastern region, where sales fell by 39.8 per cent, from 84,668t to 50,972t at the end of June. In Fes-Meknes sales declined 37.65 per cent, or 56,735t sold against 90,996t in the same month of last year. Sales decreased at Drâa-Tafilalet, Tangier-Tétouan-Al-Hoceima, Casablanca-Settat and Marrakech-Safi respectively by 36.13, 35.31, 32.90 and 30.32 per cent. Only the Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra and Dakhla-Oued Eddahab regions were able to recover. In Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra, cement consumption reached a 9.79 per cent increase, ie sales of 19,054t, up from 17,355t in the same month of last year.

In Detaining OCP Vessel, South Africa Puts Ideology Before Justice- American Enterprise Institute

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 13:14

The North Africa Post

In detaining a vessel loaded with Sahara phosphates bound for New Zealand, the ruling party in South Africa, the ANC, is reconnecting with its anachronistic populist marxist ideology, putting politics above justice in a hostile action that threatens to derail a peace process led by the UN, said the US public policy think tank, The American Enterprise Institute.

In an analysis issued after the pulling out of Morocco’s phosphates giant, the OCP and its Sahara subsidiary Phosboucraa, from proceeding on the core of the case in South Africa, the Think Tank deplored South Africa’s intransigence to put partisan ideology above law, threatening “to derail international processes, reward terror, and effectively encourage piracy.”

The Institute deplores the decision of the South African court to maintain the ship detained in Port Elizabeth with 55,000 tons of phosphates worth $5 million on board.

The author of the analysis Michael Rubin said that South Africa’s justice had better follow the example of Panamanian authorities who “decreed that the Polisario had no jurisdictional competence in the matter.” In doing so, the “Panamanian government and court recognized that allowing self-styled governments and groups to seize shipping amounted to piracy.”

“Groups like the Polisario would then use the proceeds to finance terrorism and the lavish lifestyle of the Polisario’s politburo, and the precedent could disrupt diplomacy worldwide,” warned Rubin.

In the face of the blatant partiality and violations by the South African justice system of the international law of the sea, the OCP declared their withdrawal from the judicial proceedings on grounds that the court “has no legitimacy to pursue the question of whether the Polisario Front should be able to seize the Cherry Blossom’s cargo,” he explained.

The arbitrary detention of the ship will have a fallout on the locals in the Sahara, the author went on to say, noting that “One hundred percent of the profits from Phosboucraa mine, whose product is being shipped by Cherry Blossom, are invested into the local community”. Moreover, the author of the analysis said, “50 local Western Sahara companies subcontract with the firm, creating even greater employment. More than three-quarters of the work force is from Western Sahara as opposed to the rest of Morocco.”

He added that Phosboucraa operates in line with the UN legal framework and international law governing the exploitation of international resources.

“Less than two percent of Morocco’s phosphate exports originate in the Western Sahara and the Moroccan kingdom spends more per capita on residents of the south than it does on any of Morocco’s other regions,” Michael Rubin explained.

In siding with the Polisario, South Africa defends a militia that locks people in abhorrent living conditions in Tindouf camps, and the self-proclaimed SADR republic is a criminal group accused of embezzling humanitarian aid and of connivance with terrorist groups, he said.

The unlawful decision of the South African court also sets dangerous precedent, as the SADR republic is not the only separatist group seeking international recognition.

“If the South African court seizes the Cherry Blossom’s cargo to hand it to a Marxist hold-over in a dusty corner of Africa, then it effectively is declaring open season on international trade and an end to talks as the primary means of resolving conflict,” underlined the author of the analysis.

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.

Maya Gold & Silver Inc.: Zgounder Silver Mine Produces 31,942 Ounces During The Month Of June

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 00:55

Stockhouse.com

MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(Marketwired) – Maya Gold & Silver (“Maya” or the “Corporation”) (TSX VENTURE:MYA) report a monthly production of 31,942 ounces (993.5 Kg) of silver during the month of June 2017 at its Zgounder silver mine in Morocco.

June 2017 Production Highlights

31,942 ounces (993.5 Kg) of silver ingots were produced from 3,536 tonnes of dry material presenting an average head grade of 338.15 g/t Ag;

A recovery rate of 83.08% was achieved representing a decrease of 4% relative to the previous month which we attribute to problems with the washing units;

Production was affected by suspension of operations for a 10 day period during the Ramadan religious holiday and by a planned mill maintenance that will further improve its performance.

Development highlights at the Zgounder Mine

During the month of June 2017, underground exploration and development consisted of 394 metres of percussion drilling in four mine workings.

Underground percussion drilling within two chutes inside panels 5y et 6y allowed the definition of one panel with a tonnage of 12,170 t at an average silver grade of 426 ppm.

Qualified Persons

The technical content of this news release has been provided by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining and has been reviewed and approved by Michel Boily, PhD, geo from GÉON; an independent Qualified Person under NI 43-101 standards.

ABOUT MAYA

Maya Gold & Silver Inc. is a Canadian publicly listed mining corporation focused on the exploration and development of gold and silver deposits in Morocco. Maya is initiating mining and milling operations at its Zgounder Mine owned by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining, a Maya 85% owned joint venture with l’Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines of the Kingdom of Morocco (15%).

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Zgounder Silver Mine

The decision to commence production at the Zgounder Silver Mine was not based on a feasibility study of mineral reserves demonstrating economic and technical viability, but rather on a pre-feasibility study. Accordingly, there is increased uncertainty and economic and technical risks of failure associated with this production decision. Production and economic variables may vary considerably, due to the absence of a complete and detailed site analysis according to and in accordance with NI 43-101.

Forward-looking statements

This news release contains statements about our future business and planned activities. These are “forward-looking” because we have used what we know and expect today to make a statement about the future. Forward-looking statements including but are not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work and analyses. Forward-looking statements usually include words such as may, intend, plan, expect, anticipate, and believe or other similar words. We believe the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable.

However, actual events and results could be substantially different because of the risks and uncertainties associated with our business or events that happen after the date of this news release. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. As a general policy, we do not update forward-looking statements except as required by securities laws and regulations.

Moroccan OCP group accuses South Africa of “act of political piracy”

Sahara News - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 19:46
The Moroccan phosphate group (OCP) denounced on Thursday (July 13) South Africa for committing an “act of political piracy” after its justice had ordered, in mid-June, the seizure of a ship carrying a cargo of Moroccan phosphates mined in Western Sahara. The incident dates back to May 1, when a South African court ordered the […]

Laptop Ban On Direct Flights Between Morocco And U.S. To Be Lifted: Airline

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 11:22

US NEWS & WORLD REPORT
by Samia Errazzouki

A ban on carrying laptop computers and other large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on direct flights between Morocco and the United States will be lifted on Thursday, Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc said in a statement.

In March, the United States banned laptops in cabins on flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries — Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey — to address fears that bombs could be concealed in them.

Royal Air Maroc is the only carrier to operate direct flights to the United States, flying from Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport to New York and Washington D.C..

It did not say why the restrictions had been lifted, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had already dropped restrictions on six of the airlines after they adopted stricter screening for explosives and other enhanced measures.

The department said on Tuesday it would review requests by the remaining three Middle Eastern airlines — from Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — to have the ban lifted.

State-owned EgyptAir said it expected the restrictions to be removed on Wednesday. Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, said it expected the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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