-concedes on security gap
Liberia’s Foreign Minister Amb. Marjon V. Kamara says U.N. peacekeepers should still be around because Liberia’s “security apparatuses have not inspired confidence in the people” in terms of the way they carry themselves.
Though she argues that most Liberians are not aware that in most areas across the country, UNMIL has already withdrawn and is nowhere in Grand Cape Mount or along the borders and other places, she however insists that “government doesn’t just want to take the risk.”
A Foreign Ministry release says the Minister spoke Monday, 28 March when a two-member delegation of the U.S. Foreign Relations Senate Committee paid her a courtesy visit in Monrovia. “So, all these factors come together to making a situation where we foresee some difficulties because of perception. Because of that, the government would like to still see some form of UNMIL presence on the ground during the elections. We see that as kind of psychological and a deterrent,” she added.
The delegation including Senior Advisor for International Economics and Trade, Mr. Andy Olson and Policy Analyst, Ms. Morgan Lorraine Viña were accompanied to the Foreign Ministry by the U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Amb Mark Boulware.
Madam Kamara stressed that in reality, Liberian security apparatuses are the “first responders” for anything here at the moment and not UNMIL, as is the perception from ordinary Liberians out there. “We are saying, let them just be there if it is going to contribute to good behavior, fair elections and no problems in order for us to have a smooth transition,” she indicated.
She suggested that some form of UNMIL presence remains in the country until after the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, telling the U.S. Foreign Relations Senate Committee delegation that Liberians have been a little bit paranoia about UNMIL drawdown.
She said in her view, the level of fear should be erased, adding, “We have to continuously explain to our people that on June 30th, 2016, UNMIL is not going to disappear, especially as we approach 2017 elections. It’s going to be a transition of security from the UN to the Liberian Government.”
The Foreign Minister informed the delegation that for more details on UNMIL drawdown, the Minister of Justice [Cllr. Benedict Sannoh] has got all the details, including how prepared the national security forces are to take over the security of the country.
She told the U.S. delegation that she was glad to share with them what she knows, even though UNMIL drawdown process falls under authority of the Ministry of Justice. However, Minister Kamara highlighted a serious challenge to the process – donor funding – which she indicated is not forthcoming.
The visitors had stated that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Congress is paying keen attention to developments in Liberia as UNMIL prepares to scale down its operations here.
–Edited by Jonathan Browne