The new head of MINURSO, the German Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, cannot have been very comfortable these past weeks. In the course of one month, the soldiers of the UN mission entrusted with monitoring the cease-fire in Western Sahara have actually been guilty of professional misconduct in the performance of their official duties.
A video circulated on You Tube on April 23 showed a MINURSO soldier from Egypt, Hany Mustapha, while he was inciting young Sahrawis to fight for the independence of Western Sahara and to draw inspiration from the “Egyptian revolution” demonstrations in Tahrir Square. Just few days later, three other MINURSO peacekeepers were caught filming and taking pictures of infrastructure and fishing ships in the port of Dakhla.
Port authorities have notified the Mission chiefs who ordered the three soldiers to return immediately to their place of duty.
However, the port authorities did not confiscate the three peacekeepers’ cameras to avoid an incident with the MINURSO, said a port senior official.
According to the same source, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, who has been heading the MINURSO for a year, has promised to address to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon a detailed report on the incident.
As to the Egyptian soldier, he was fired and sent back home after the MINURSO conducted a discreet investigation on the matter. The MINURSO has not however made any comment.
An Argentinean peacekeeper who was present at the Egyptian’s meeting with the young Sahrawis is still in the Sahara.
In accordance with the agreements establishing a cease-fire in Western Sahara, the MINURSO personnel must observe strict neutrality in the performance of its mission.
The Moroccan side hopes that these are just isolated cases, since it is the first time that such incidents have taken place since the UN Mission was stationed in Western Sahara in 1991.