More than half the expected 350,000 total of Moroccan march volunteers had already arrived at the southern fortress town of Tarfaya on Tuesday (28 October), ready for the great final trek across the border into spanish Sahara to claim Moroccan sovereignty over the territory.
SCU & SV Marchers in trucks along road south (2 shots)
SV Crowds jostling
MV TRACKING SHOT Marchers and convoy stooped for night
GV AERIAL Trucks at standstill
SVs Marchers settling down for night (2 shots)
GV AERIAL NIGHT Campsite
GV Loudspeaker van
GV ZOOM INTO SCU Campfire and marchers cheering (2 shots)
Initials BB/0110 EW/GH/BB/0130
This film is serviced with an English commentary by B.B.C. reporter David Sells, who is accompanying the marchers along the road to Tarfaya.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: More than half the expected 350,000 total of Moroccan march volunteers had already arrived at the southern fortress town of Tarfaya on Tuesday (28 October), ready for the great final trek across the border into spanish Sahara to claim Moroccan sovereignty over the territory.
The volunteers, drawn from throughout the country, have spend several days jammed into truck convoys crossing the desert miles to Tarfaya. Now they face a wait of possibly up to two weeks before the march to E1 Aaiun -- the Spanish Sahara's administrative capital.
The whole march organisation is being carefully kept in check by the Moroccan army, providing en route food and water supplies, transport and medical facilities. At Tarfaya, also, the army is watchful to ensure that local groups are kept under the control of local leaders .. and the massive camp site neatly organised into sections according to provinces.
Meanwhile, moves are continuing in an attempt to end the dispute over the future of the Spanish-held colony. Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim made a lightning four-leg tour to discuss the issue with the leaders of all countries directly involved. Apart from the dispute with Spain, Morocco faces a counter-claim for sovereignty from Mauritania ..and a demand by Algeria that the territory should be allowed self-determination, not assimilation.
On Tuesday, also, the Moroccan and Mauritanian Foreign Minister, Dr. Ahmed Laraki and Mr. Hamdi Ould Moukass, arrived in madrid for what was believed to be final negotiations for a decolonisation agreement. The joint mission was thought to indicate that the two governments had reached an understanding on their conflicting claims.
The same day, Spanish military authorities announced that the Spanish Foreign Legion had taken military control of the colony. Spain has already begun the evacuation of civilian personnel and military dependents from E1 Aaiun.
Morocco's monarch King Hassan -- who says he will personally lead the march across the border -- has repeatedly emphasised that the marchers will be unarmed and peaceful.