The Minister of Defense, Brownie Samukai says the military is ready to take over responsibility for the nation’s security after the United Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) mandate ends in June this year.
Minister Samukai told the Voice of America early Wednesday, 20 January the more than 2,000 strong restructured Armed Forces of Liberia has been undergoing training in preparation for the UNMIL drawdown.
“From our side, we believe that the roles and responsibilities that we have are easily executable because we have been doing the preparedness a little over a year and a half,” the Defense Minister is quoted.
“We are to the point where all of our forces, all of the 2,000-plus personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia have been going through different kinds of training, different kinds of operations, different kinds of scenarios exercises, including our participation in the UN Mission. So, we are very confident in the capability of the Armed Forces of Liberia,” he maintained.
He said the military graduated about 154 additional personnel last week after they completed their advanced individual training to prepare the army for the different roles and responsibilities it will play as a result of the drawdown of UNMIL.
However, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara, vowed on Monday to ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to extend UNMIL’s mandate beyond 2016 until after elections here in 2017.
President Ouattara made the revelation at the conclusion of a three-day Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting between the two countries held in the Ivorian town of Guiglo.
Minister Samukai said the Ivorian leader was spoke in political context that the presence of the international community would lend credibility to the results of next year’s presidential election.
“One needs to understand that the presence of the international community during an electoral period is very pivotal to the transition process from one administration to the other, and I think it is within that context in which he was speaking” According to the VOA, he denied that the trust factor in the presence of the international community implies that the Liberian military is incapable of maintaining national security on its own.
“The military has no influential part to play in the electoral process,” he said. “The military simply has unique capabilities in terms of logistics and transportation and the facilitation of individuals from point A to point B. It’s been suggested that about $100 million would be needed to get the Liberian security sector ready to take over from UNMIL, which was established in September 2003 to monitor a cease-fire agreement in Liberia, following the resignation of President Charles Taylor and the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War.
Samukai said the amount is based upon the three- to five-year capacity-building, resource mobilization that is needed, “That is what the government is doing now. The government has already made available $10 million to support the preparation of the Liberian security forces, including the military heading toward 2017.”