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Saharawi Activist On Hunger Strike

Ban Intervenes With Spain And Morocco Over Saharawi Activist On Hunger Strike

New York, Dec 10 2009 4:10PM Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seeking “urgent” action from Spain and Morocco over a Saharawi activist whose condition is rapidly deteriorating after she went on hunger strike last month when Morocco denied her entry into her native Western Sahara, subject of a long-running dispute between the two countries.

Mr. Ban spoke with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and is due to meet with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri to discuss the condition of Aminatou Haidar, who began her hunger strike at the airport at Lanzarote, on Spain’s Canary Islands, after being denied entry.

“The Secretary-General expressed concerns about her deteriorating health and emphasized that a solution needed to be found with the utmost urgency,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said of today’s meeting. “He proposed possible steps to resolve the situation.”

Fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after Spain’s colonial administration of Western Sahara ended in 1976. Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy, while the Frente Polisario’s position is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

Last month, Mr. Ban voiced concern over the tensions between the parties to status talks after the recent detention of several groups of Saharawi activists. A UN mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, is entrusted with monitoring a ceasefire reached in September 1991 and organizing a referendum on self-determination.

ENDS

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