From the day the United Nation Security Council officially announced the United Nations Mission in Liberia drawdown plan that by 2016 the government of Liberia will take full charge and responsibilities of national security, debates about the our security apparatus mainly the Liberia National Police ability to combat deadly crimes that threaten internal security continues to be the focuses of intellectual forums and even radios talk shows especially in the wake of civil disturbance, youth lawlessness, mob justice, armed robberies and so on.
In the present of UNMIL, many people in Liberia expressed legitimate fears about what may happen after the mission shall have departed Liberia come 2016or remain with a paradigm shift in terms of mission scope of operation.
The legitimacy of those that expressed fears doubtlessly stems from the entrenchment of the wave of violence crimes that arguably overwhelm some of our security agencies ability as in the case of the recent violence between some group of commercial motorbike riders and the Red light container site police depot that resulted into the burning down of the depot. The recent Ganta Nimba County lawlessness that happens few days ago in the presence of UNMIL is another example that legitimizes the fears of some people.
From all of the debates and fears, it is arguably safe to make inference that many people want the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of UNMIL. Of course, with all of the significant and indelible gains that UNMIL have made over the years in Liberia post conflict reconstruction and development especially in the security sector reform, it will be a resounding applaud for Liberians should the mission be extended for another two to three years. For those that harboring fears, the extension may allay their fears.
Without any attempt to discredit the investment of the UNMIL in Liberia Post conflict reconstruction and development, this article put forth the argument that the extension of the mandate of UNMIL should it happen by itself cannot allay those having legitimate fears and skepticism in the ability of our security apparatus to resume for responsibility.
You will agree with that from the time UNMIL officially assume operation in Liberia, we have had and continue to experience violent crimes. Let me take your minds back to the so called Christian and Muslim conflict in 2005 at Paynesville Jacob Town Community. This short but deadly conflict that resulted into loss of lives and churches burned happened in the presence of 15,000 including civilian and front police units. By then, the mission was at its inception.
In 2012, when group of youngsters believing to be students went on the rampage by damaging properties belonging to government and innocent people for what they described as government refusal to compensate them for back to school vacation job. Again, it happened in the presence of UNMIL in Paynesville and Congo Town.
The November 2011 post-election violence is another spectacular example. Moreover, incidents outside Monrovia also happened in the presence of UNMIL mainly in Nimba County.
It is not that UNMIL don’t have the capacity or ability to deal or repress the entrancement of violent crimes. Of course the mission has the requisite logistics. However, its mandate prohibits direct control over the security except for self-defense in the wake of unprovoked attacks on personnel and UNMIL properties. In a nut shell, the mandate calls for monitoring, mentoring, capacity building through quick impact projects, providing logistical support. Moreover, the mandate recognizes the government of Liberia responsible for national security. This is the missing link that many people harboring fears probably don’t understand.
In the opinion of the author, expressing fears and debating the ability of our security apparatus following the departure of UNMIL arguably appears illegitimate. In as much as the mandate from the onset remains the same, what could you expect should the mission or mandate be extended when in the past their presence did not repel violent crimes as catalogued in this article?
Assuming that the mandate from the onset of UNMIL was executive despites its merits and demerits as in the case of Kosovo that put all of the security duties directly on the shoulder of the mission, then it would be logical to legitimize the debate and express fears on the departure of UNMIL. May be executive mandate would have helped to combat the wave of violent crimes now entrenched into our society.
The extension of UNMIL mandate may be good because of employment reason for some Liberians, but whether it will repress or repel violent crimes that threatens internal security remain questionable.
In the opinion of the author, your fears and debates must draw government attention to the package the drawdown plan that if deliver, will significantly equip our security apparatus for the challenges ahead of the departure of UNMIL?This is because; the drawdown package holistically outlined practical challenges and the interventions thereof. For the security transition plan to succeed, the Government must consistently prioritize security sector and rule-of-law reforms throughout until the handover deadline.
Relevant to UNMIL drawdown plan, a recent survey conducted Dr. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae, one of the commissioners at the Governance Commission (GC)with oversight on decentralization published on 2 October 2015 by the Daily Observe online captioned as UNMIL Training of Liberia National Police: Effectiveness, Results, and Future Implications.”
The findings revealed that the adverse impacts are not entirely training related but also resulted from the behavior of the Government of Liberia towards the LNP. Some of these negative impacts are the results of low salaries, lack of incentives and lack of logistical support. From these findings, one could argue that the police inclination for corruption has nothing do with the training. Instead, it is behavior of the Government. The passage of the recent fiscal year budget for 2015/2016 despite the outcries failed to approve the $50.00 SUD as salary increment across the board factored into the drawdown package is an empirical evidence that re-enforced the findings of the GC survey.
These legitimate findings should be the basis of the many debates and public fears for UNMIL drawdown. In other words, extending the mandate of UNMIL that is not and will never be executivefor now will make no significance difference as it relates to the wave of the entrenchment of violent crimes that continues to arouse the fears and skepticism in the ability of the Liberia National Police critical to filling in strategic security gaps to be created by UNMIL departure.
About the Author
Mr. Ambrues M. Nebo holds MSc in the top 5 % of the graduating Class in Peace and Conflict studies with specialty in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies form University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Post Graduate Certificate with distinction in Public Administration from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration Ghana, BA Hon (Magna Cum Laude) in Sociology from African Methodist Episcopal Zion University College in Liberia and various International Certificates in Security and peacekeeping operations from the Kofi Anna International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana.
Besides this article, he has authored a dozen of articles dealing with contemporary issues in Africa and Liberia in which some of his articles (Stop Pointing Fingers at the West for Political Problems in Africa, Is Prolonged Regime, a Recipe for Potential Problems in Africa? and Instead of the International Criminal Court, blame our Leaders, The Dark side of Majority Rule In Africa, The Culture of Silence; an unguaranteed grip for prolonged regime in Africa ) can be accessed online at google search and also www.academia.edu.org