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Gov’t begs for UNMIL extension

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The United Nations Security Council is expected to decide in less than three weeks (December 21) whether to extend its Mission here until June 2018 or not. This follows the Liberian Government’s request that UNMIL stays here for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, which outcome and its accompanying violence are unpredictable.

Renewing the West African nation’s request before the UN Security Council Friday December 2, Ambassador Lewis G. Browne, Liberia’s envoy to the UN said the Liberian Government is proposing an extension through a definitive period of one year.

“Only one more year to continue the phased withdrawal,”Browne said. The UN Mission here is almost completely drawing down its military force for onward deployment to its Mali Mission.
The Security Council, in its resolution 2239 (2015), affirmed its intention to consider the possible withdrawal of UNMIL troops and transition to a future United Nations presence that would support the Liberian Government in consolidating peace, based on the Council’s review of Liberia’s overall capacity to ensure stability and security conditions on the ground.

In this regard, the Security Council requested the Secretary General to conduct an assessment mission to Liberia in order to provide recommendations. That request was reiterated in resolution 2308 (2016), in which the Council extended the mandate of UNMIL until 31 December 2016 and requested the Secretary General to include an update on the modalities for transferring to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.

However, following the assessment mission here, it was recommended among other things that Liberia remain on the Security Council’s agenda under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations until 30 June 2018, with a United Nations mission implementing a mandate focused on the tasks most essential for consolidating peace, specifically: (a) good offices and political support; (b) in extremis logistical support for the 2017 elections; (c) human rights; (d) security sector reform; (e) support for the rule of law; and (f) in extremis support for Liberian security agencies in protecting civilians.

Pushing the government’s request further, Browne said the one more year of presence of UNMIL will represent to many Liberians, a ‘brand of confidence’ that would assist in mitigating, if not deterring, the real risk of a disruption during the country’s most sensitive political period-the Presidential and Legislative elections.

“Only one more year of working together, in what for Liberia is a successful partnership to properly prepare for a successor mission and a democratically-elected government to continue the useful partnership and build upon the progress.

We understand the many concerns associated with our request for an extension. There are concerns about increasing dependencies by national institutions on the international community; there are concerns that a request for extension may become recurring; there are concerns that the resources contributed to UNMIL are needed elsewhere including in more troubled spots; there are concerns that similarly conflicted countries, including in our neighborhood, have had their missions brought to successful closures which necessitates that we do so as well; and there are concerns that electoral processes are not the objects, or ought not to be the objectives, of peacekeeping missions. These are all reasonable concerns,” Browne added. -See full text of Browne’s speech to the UN Security Council on page 4.

By Othello B. Garblah

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