Western Sahara
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U.N. Urges New Push to Settle Western Sahara Dispute

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday pushed Morocco and pro-independence campaigners in Western Sahara to negotiate a settlement to the decades-old dispute over the former Spanish territory.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution that extended the mandate of the U.N. peace mission MINURSO and called for a "more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations."

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Morocco Arrests Four over 'Burning Alive' Fatwa

Morocco arrested four people Tuesday in the Western Sahara after they allegedly issued a fatwa authorizing the burning alive of a person they accused of rejecting Islam, the interior ministry said.

It said the four members of a "terrorist cell" detained in the disputed territory's main city of Laayoune had planned to "carry out dangerous terrorist crimes" in Morocco.

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Polisario Urges U.N. to Press for Western Sahara Referendum

Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz on Monday urged the U.N. to press Morocco to accept holding a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, following talks with envoy Christopher Ross.

"We call on the United Nations to put pressure on Morocco to make arrangements to organize a referendum on self-determination" for the disputed territory, he told Algerian public television.

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Thousands Protest in Spain over Western Sahara

Several thousand people demonstrated in Madrid on Sunday in support of independence for the disputed territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony in northwestern Africa.

About 3,000 protesters marched from Atocha railway station to the central Plaza de la Provincia behind a banner declaring "Sahara Free now!", an Agence France-Presse photographer said.

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Canadian to Head U.N. Western Sahara Mission

Canada's Kim Bolduc was on Monday named as the head of the United Nations mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), a statement from secretary-general Ban Ki-moon's office said.

Bolduc, 62, will also serve as Ban's special representative for Western Sahara, replacing Germany's Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber who steps down on July 31.

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Demonstrations Dispersed during U.N. Visit to W. Sahara

Moroccan police violently dispersed two pro-independence demonstrations in Western Sahara over a period of 48 hours as a U.N. human rights delegation visited the region, rights groups said Friday.

They said around 15 people were wounded, but that could not be confirmed by official sources.

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U.N. to Vote on Moderate W. Sahara Resolution Next Week

The U.N. Security Council will vote next Tuesday to renew the peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, again without widening its mandate to monitoring human rights, diplomats said.

The resolution circulated by the United States aims to send "a clear unified signal," a Security Council diplomat said Wednesday, a year after a serious row between Morocco and the U.S..

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Moroccan King Attends Prayers in Disputed Western Sahara

Morocco's King Mohamed VI attended weekly Friday prayers during a rare visit to Western Sahara, official media reported, ahead of a U.N. vote on the disputed territory.

MAP news agency said the king attended the prayers alongside the visiting interior minister of the Ivory Coast, Hamed Bakayoko.

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Ban Urges Independent Rights Monitoring in W. Sahara

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has called for "sustained, independent and impartial" monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara, while welcoming Moroccan efforts to improve the situation in disputed territory under its control.

His call, in a report to the Security Council released late Thursday, is likely to stoke renewed debate about widening the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the territory when it comes up for renewal later this month.

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Morocco Police Beat Sahrawi Protesters as British MPs Visit

Plainclothes Moroccan police violently broke up a peaceful pro-independence protest in the Western Sahara city of Laayoune after a visit by a British MP, a prominent Moroccan rights group said Monday.

About 100 activists, including women, gathered on Saturday evening in the neighborhood of Maatallah, despite police efforts to block the protest, according to Hamoud Iguilid from the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH).

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