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Liberia: Foreign Minister Wants Unmil Presence

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Friday, April 1st, 2016
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Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara has suggested that some form of United Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) presence remains in the country until after the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.

Ambassador Kamara told a US Foreign Relations Senate Committee delegation visiting the country that Liberians have been a little bit paranoia about UNMIL drawdown, and 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.”

According to a Foreign Ministry release, Foreign Minister Kamara made the assertion recently when a two-member delegation of the US Foreign Relations Senate Committee paid her a courtesy visit. The release said 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 US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Ambassador Mark Boulware.

She further stated that UNMIL should still be around because Liberia security apparatuses have not inspired confidence in the people in terms of the way they carry themselves. “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.

Foreign Minister 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. She noted that most Liberians are not aware that in most areas across the country, UNMIL has already withdrawn.

“UNMIL is nowhere in Grand Cape Mount, all along the borders and in many other places; but government doesn’t just want to take the risk. 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.

The Foreign Minister informed the Senior Advisor for International Economics and Trade, Mr. Andy Olson and Policy Analyst, Ms. Morgan Lorraine Viña, of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 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.

The Foreign Minister told the US 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 US Congress is paying keen attention to developments in Liberia as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) prepares to scale down its operations here.

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