The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia Mr. Farid Zarif has transmitted to the UN Security Council, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and neighboring Côte d’Ivoire’s requests for UNMIL to remain in Liberia until after the 2017 elections.
Briefing the Security Council in New York on Thursday, 17 March, a dispatch says Mr. Zarif also spoke of a petition to the Security Council from three opposition political parties and several civil society organizations here, calling for the postponement of UNMIL’s departure.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara recently vowed to speak with the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Mr. Ban ki-Moon for the extension of the peacekeepers’ mandate in Liberia. Ahead of Mr. Zarif’s appearance before the Security Council, politicians and some civil society groups in Liberia petitioned the peacekeepers amidst a recent politically charged environment, requesting a postponement of their departure.
Mr. Zarif says the expected completion of the security transition on 30 June will be one of the most significant milestones for Liberia and the international community since the end of the country’s civil war and the signing of the peace agreement in 2003.
“It will also mark the beginning of a new phase in the UN’s engagement in Liberia,” he said, adding that Liberia and its partners must remain focused on sustainable peace, which will require longer term engagement and support by the international community.
The Security Council previously set 15 December as deadline to decide on UNMIL’s future; and Mr. Zarif says both the Government of Liberia and UNMIL were confident that the priority targets in the country’s security transition plan will be met by 30 June when the country will take full security responsibility.
He said meeting the deadline set by the Security Council requires sustained political commitment, adding that “More concerted efforts by the Executive and Legislature are required to ensure the urgent enactment and implementation of critical legislation relating to the security sector,” while citing the draft Firearms and Ammunition Control Act, the Police Act and the Immigration Service Act.
He added that UNMIL has continued to hand over security responsibilities to national security agencies, while reflecting that since the previous Security Council session on Liberia in September, Liberian authorities have taken over security responsibilities for the two national prisons and are making steady progress on the four remaining tasks – security for VIPs, registration and inspection of Government-owned weapons, maritime patrolling and explosive ordnance disposal.
“The Mission remains engaged with the Liberian security agencies to advance the development of institutional structures and legal frameworks for the justice and security sectors, as well as the establishment of accountability mechanisms,” Zarif said.
He noted this includes training and mentoring of senior management and supporting further decentralization of security services at the regional and county levels, and establishment of county and district security councils, respectively.
-Edited by Jonathan Browne