Ahead of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL drawdown plans, some government officials are seriously considering the restructuring the security sector before the departure of the UN troops here.
Lofa County Senator Steve Zargo, on Tuesday during the regular session of the Liberian Senate, presented a bill seeking the restructuring of the Liberia National Police before the departure of the UN can take effect.
The Lofa County lawmaker, who won the Senatorial election last December on the ticket of the opposition Liberty Party, said the recent performance of the police was worrisome, especially when many Liberians don’t have confidence in the police any longer.
“We know that Liberians don’t have trust and confidence in the police force any longer. Look at the recent incidence between the police and pen-pen riders- that’s squarely how challenging it will be if nothing is done to restructure the police before the departure of UNMIL,” he said.
The United States Government and United Nations spent over US$17 million on training the current police force in 2004- spearheaded by the United States-based group. The Security Sector Reform attracted other countries, who also helped with the training program after a protracted period of wars.
Sen. Zargo, the senate’s Committee Chairman on National Defense, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs, also told a news conference at his Capitol Building office yesterday that the restructuring of the police would also take account the return of officers who once served police.
“We also looked at bringing back some of the police officers who once served in that force and still have age in their favor because it is easier for them to catch up. Another problem with which the police is faced is at the times, the recruitment of people who were not academically qualified. Today their records and performance, as well as relations with the citizens have been a problem for us as a government,” Sen. Zargo.
According to him, the Police is currently with low manpower capacity, noting that the current number of troops of the police is below 5,000- something, he said, was worrisome and scaring, especially with the international police and UN soldiers leaving the country.
He also indicated that there was about US$104 million with the international partners for the improvement of the security sector after the departure for the three years. “That amount is for the training of our security people, but we should use it properly in the direction that the result will be appreciated by the donors,” he said.
Meanwhile, the bill under the titled: National Security Dialogue Bill”, is expected to spend three weeks with the Committee on Judiciary, Security, National Defense and Veteran Affairs Committees before an action by the senate.-Edited by George Barpeen
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor