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War attitude hasn’t changed

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Liberia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue is reminding the Liberia National Police (LNP) and other state securities to be patient in dealing with the citizenry, saying that the attitude from war has not completely changed in spite of maintaining over 14 years of peace here.

“Finally, I say to you that there are challenges as we reshuffle, [have] coming from war to peace. We have maintained peace for 14 years and more, but the attitude from war has not completely changed,” Minister Cherue told officers at the Police Academy Wednesday, 6 September in a keynote address at their graduation from elections security and crisis management training.

The donor – funded training which came through Irish Aid, European Union, UNPOL and UNDP involved riot officers from the Police Support Unit (PSU) and Emergency Response Unit (ERU) throughout Liberia.

Given the fragility of the society, Minister Cherue encourages the police and other national security agencies to be patient and understand the situation that they will be confronted with, saying by doing so they will be serving their country well.

While strongly reminding officers that in most times elections exercises come with a lot of problems, tensions and sometimes violence, he notes that government’s key concern is a well-balanced security force with better training and education.

He observes that violence is one of the greatest threats to free and fair elections, arguing that it is especially true to country like Liberia where a larger portion of its population is in the youth that always want instant gratification.

Given the crucial nature of the much awaited transition of power following the October polls, Minister Cherue urges the National Elections Commission (NEC) and LNP to be trained professionally and keep three basic principles in mind which include having the Vision of Job, the Wisdom of Solomon and the Strength of Samson.

He also calls for neutrality among the securities, urging that they place national interest above personal relations, irrespective of whoever their relative or friend may be that is contesting in the elections.

Earlier, Liberia’s Police Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman assured that the police will perform their part well in these elections, noting that they will not go back to history of security involvement in elections.

He acknowledges that beyond just the transition, “we are” now at a crossroad where the name of the Liberian security sector can be redeemed by maintaining the integrity of the process and being the police and playing the part they should play during these elections.

He has extended thanks and appreciation to donors who have taken their taxpayers’ money to support the training of the Liberian securities, and expressed the LNP’s support for gender empowerment.

Police Deputy Inspector General for Training and Manpower Development Col. William K. Mulbah had earlier said the crisis management training involved 640 officers, 55 of whom are female officers. He also says a total of 6,722 officers were trained in the elections security training, out of which 1,447 are women.

Citing elections security as key, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya reminds officers that their role will not only be limited to the protection of the Commission, polling stations and participants, but notes that parties will want assurance that their supporters face no intimidation.

Giving instances of the tension police should expect, he says with just 73 representatives seats available to be contested for, there are 986 candidates in the race. He said this would mean that the remaining 913 losers win will have to find some reasons in justifying why they did not win.

He says some would cite delay on opening of polling centers as factor compelling their supporters to abandon the process, thus urging officers to be deployed at centers in time to enable NEC workers to operate timely.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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