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Prepare for Extremism

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ExtremismThe Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has ordered the military and other Law enforcement agencies to prepare for extremism and the consequences of terrorism, through effective coordination.

“Likewise, we must not wither to protect ourselves against extremism and the consequences of terrorism. Accordingly, we must be better informed and ensure effective coordination and preparedness between and among our military and civilian law enforcement agencies – any action that affect our peace, security and stability,” Mrs. Sirleaf said.

In her message at the 59th Armed Forces Day Celebration held in Monrovia at the Barclay Training Center on February 11, the Commander-in-Chief expressed explicit confidence in the ability of the military and security forces to effectively execute their duties in post-United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL environment “as evidenced by their level of preparedness.”

She, however, pleaded with the citizenry to continue to work with the AFL to strengthen Liberia’s border control mechanisms and remain vigilant against activities that will affect the peace and stability of the nation and people.

According to her, there are unique capacities that the AFL can bring in supporting civil authority, particularly in government’s development effort. The keynote speaker for the Armed Forces Day event, Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara acknowledged that the army is being trained not only in national defense, but also in strategic institution-building and civic responsibilities; but warned that “we must be careful not to grow dependent on military support.”

Minister Kamara suggested that when law enforcement institutions are capacitated and equipped to execute their functions effectively, the need for the military to backstop their activities is reduced drastically.

“Our criminal justice system, including the police, courts and detention facilities, have to be further improved to more rapidly and equitably dispense justice in post-UNMIL environment,” Amb. Kamara emphasized.

The Liberian Foreign Minister, however, acknowledged the AFL’s dedication and significant contribution to the state and also to regional and international peace, as she cited their role in the United Nations Multidimensional Integration Stabilization Mission in Mali or MINUSMA.

According to Minister Kamara, today’s AFL contrasts sharply with the previous army as Liberia builds a development-oriented army, opposed to the one used before to mobilize labor forcefully in the so-called “noko” soldier era.

“Today’s Armed Forces of Liberia has evolved to become the most educated in our history, with specialized skills in many disciplines. Our men and women in uniform reflect high quality and standards, integrity, loyalty and commitment not to any particular ethnic group, but to the nation,” she noted.

She observed that the military’s Engineering Company has collaborated with the Ministry of Public Works in rehabilitating community and feeder roads across the country, and was very instrumental in restoring roads in Sinoe, making it easier for people to commute to the 2015 Independence Day Celebrations.

But she expressed the belief that if the other components of the security architecture here are robust and have won the trust of the people, exceptional circumstances for deployment of the military may not arise, suggesting that the armed forces will remain focused on its noble role of protecting the nation’s territorial integrity.

“We can all agree that the security of our state and the maintenance of peace in the post-UNMIL era will not and should not rest with the military alone,” said Amb. Kamara, further emphasizing the need to strengthen District Peace and security Councils and utilized effectively for regular consultations, involving all stakeholders at the community level.

But she contended that it would be disingenuous to harbor the thought that in moving forward, Liberians will never disagree and sometimes even tussle over different views and interests.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by George Barpeen

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