As UN Council meets on Western Sahara, ill Haidar is freed
UNITED NATIONS, December 17, updated -- As the UN Security Council kept the request for a briefing on Western Sahara in the shadows on Thursday, word reached Inner City Press that seriously ill hunger striker Aminatou Haidar is being released and will return to Western Sahara. "It's good news," the well placed diplomatic source told Inner City Press.
Moments later, a Security Council ambassador emerging from the closed door consultations told Inner City Press of a cable from Spain, that the plane has left.
Asked if the Council will continue to consider the request for a briefing, the source said yes. But several non-permanent Council members told Inner City Press that "Costa Rica doesn't have nine votes" in favor of its request, if it called for a procedural vote.
Inner City Press asked U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, as she stood at the Council stakeout microphone, for the U.S. position on whether the Council should have a briefing on Western Sahara. Ambassador Rice walked away from the microphone, the question hanging in the air. "You have your answer," another correspondent told Inner City Press. A request to Mission staff on Wednesday likewise yielded no answer. Watch this site.
Update: as the Council consultations got out, an Ambassador who favored a briefing on Western Sahara said there will now be one. "When they can't defeat you, they go along," he said. The French Ambassador Gerard Araud is said to have adamantly opposed the briefing -- but lost. Of course, the decision came after Ms. Haidar was freed. Inner City Press is told she is returning to Western Sahara on a Spanish plane, with her doctor and sister.
The U.S. said it was at a "sensitive" moment, and asked for delay. Three days or so, although it's left up to the Burkina Faso presidency.
Africa's last colony
Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.