Monrovia - The Senate committee on Defense, Security Intelligence and Veteran Affairs which was tasked by plenary to do an appraisal on the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has submitted its report to the body, recommending that incentives, benefits and remunerations spelt out in the police and immigration acts of 2016 be strongly considered and enforced.
UNMIL’s drawdown has been met with mix reactions. Many have called for the men and women in blue helmets to remain in the country while others believe that it was about time to take a bow.
“The committee is also recommending that the senate leadership meets with the Chief Executive Reference in earlier reports submitted by this committee, which contained several issues with far-reaching National Security Implications”, stated the committee.
The committee continued in its report “The senate defense committee is also calling for those key national security actors who are too often out of the country for protracted period to keep in country to at least stabilize this critical period of transition.”
Stated the report: “That we again reiterate that this much talked about National Security Dialogue be held, so as to bring together past and present National Security Actors, Stakeholders and the like to dialogue and diffuse the apparently visible bad blood that exists within the Security Sector, between current serving officers from sisterly entities on the one hand; and retired / deactivated /demobilized servicemen and the newly recruited and currently functioning ones on the other hand.”
Senator Steve Zargo of Lofa County, chairman of the senate Defense committee said, as the country grapples with the drawdown of UNMIL which took effect on 30, June 2016, Liberians have to accept the fact that their security is now in their hands and there’s no turning back from what he described as hard fact.
Senator Zargo said: “As a committee, we believe that much more could have been done while UNMIL was mentoring our National Security Institutions in terms of Rules of Engagement, and the implementation of the well documented benchmarks set up by the Government of Liberia and the United Nations Mission in Liberia”.
“The Primary intent of the benchmark was to increase the strength of the Armed Forces of Liberia to about five thousand (5,000) plus or minus men, and the Liberia National Police (LNP) to about Eight Thousand (8,000) men plus or minus. Targeted number of men was also projected for other first line National Security Institutions in Liberia. Unfortunately to this date, this has not materialized”, he said.
In the report, the committee is also recommending that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signs the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Immigration Service Acts, respectively of 2016, and subsequently appoint heads of these institutions, as these major bills were preconditions highlighted by the Security Council of the United Nations for lifting the remaining sanctions on the Republic of Liberia in furtherance of UNMIL’s Transition;
He further encouraged the Executive Branch of Government to ensure regular and consistent meetings of the National Security Council /Joint Security Committee in Monrovia and other parts of the country, with the view of taking charge of National security responsibility.
He also called for measures and steps to be taken that will address the issue of soldiers leaving the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).