6 Aug Western Sahara

Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria. After Spain withdrew from its former colony of Spanish Sahara in 1976, Morocco annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara and claimed the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front contesting Morocco's sovereignty ended in a 1991 cease-fire and the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation. As part of this effort, the UN sought to offer a choice to the peoples of the Western Sahara between independence, favored by the Polisario Front, or integration into Morocco. A proposed referendum never took place due to lack of agreement on voter eligibility. To help us unpack this we are now joined on the line by:.

Maya Schkolne: Research Associate at the Afro Middle East Centre She is busy writing a book on Western Sahara

Mr Jose Nascimento: A South African human rights lawyer who has been involved in promoting certain causes such as East Timor, Burma, and the Western Sahara. In 1999 he was an international electoral observer for the UN referendum in East Timor and was also an electoral observer during the last South African elections. Many of his cases have been reported in the local and international media and he has received a number of international awards. He is also currently working on a book on the Western Sahara

Ms Sacha Knox: A research specialist in the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). She is situated within the Governance and Security Unit where she has been working on the question of the Western Sahara.

Mr Itani Rasalanavho: An international aspects and solidarity officer for the Young Communist League in South Africa, Johannesburg District. He is also coordinator for a newly formed International Solidarity Network and works actively on the Western Sahara
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