Philadelphia, USA - The Liberia Ambassador accredited to the United States of America, Jeremiah Sulunteh says, the decision for the United Nations to withdrew its peacekeeping forces from Liberia is predicated upon its confidence in Liberia, both to continue the remarkable job it has done in the fight against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, and to build on the progress made since the deployment of the peacekeeping mission in 2003.
Speaking recently at the 26th Union of Liberian Association in the America (ULAA) inaugural program held on March 26 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ambassador Sulunteh noted that, the Government of Liberia in 2015 prepared in close consultation with UNMIL and other stakeholders a plan for a security transition. The plan sets clear benchmarks for Liberian authorities to take over all security responsibilities, such as providing Presidential guard; civilian policing; immigration and boarder controls and national defense. Ambassador Sulunteh further informed the well attended crowd that the post-UNMIL drawdown plan is less about replacing the peacekeeping forces; rather, it’s more about addressing the challenges of maintaining security, peace and access to justice in post-war Liberia. The Ambassador passionately pleaded with Liberians at home and thosereturning to Liberia from the diaspora, to join the peace-building efforts. He emphasized the need for active community and law enforcement-friendly participation in sustaining a lasting peace for Liberia. A successful security paradigm will require a concerted community involvement, consultation and cooperation among ordinary citizens, stakeholders, as well as, capacity building for justice and corrections personnel to be deployed throughout Liberia.” Ambassador Sulunteh noted. With only about 5,000 police officers, a little over 2,000 military personnel, inadequate immigration personnel, as well as, limited officers of the Coast Guards, the Ambassador confirmed that there is a dire need to increase manpower training for the security sector. In addition to increasing the number of security personnel, Amb. Sulunteh admitted that though numbers matter, it must not be a dependable factor; logistics are equally needed to enhance effective security operations, in order to enjoy the confidence of the communities. At his recent congressional testimony on Liberia at the United States capitol in Washington D.C., Ambassador Sulunteh emphasized that peacekeeping missions should not only be about restoring peace, it must be about sustaining the peace which includes training and capacity building as a major component of roles and responsibilities. The Ambassador made a specific reference to the Liberia disarmament process where, UNMIL disarmed over 60,000 Liberian ex-combatants; however, the mission failed to efficiently change the mindset of the ex-combatants, and today, many of them are seen in the communities engaging in arm rubber activities. The Ambassador confirmed that part of the post-UNMIL drawdown strategy and in preparation for elections in 2017, the Government of Liberia and the United Nations have agreed on a plan to have 1,500 military forces in Liberia. According to him, this will be an effort to support government's plan which stress a shift from militaristic security to human security. “In addition, the UN has established a Regional Quick Reaction Force based in the Ivory Coast to respond to threats within Liberia and Ivory Coast under a UN Intermission Cooperation Agreement.”Amb. Sulunteh concluded In concluding his testimony at the U.S Congress on Capitol Hill, the Ambassador strongly recommended that there should be a post-withdrawal back-up plan, including a small, but robust military presence in Liberia, with appropriate military hardware, as observers during the 2017 general and Presidential elections. After which, professional recruitment, training and capacity building of the military and paramilitary personnel should be carried out before a final withdrawal from Liberia. In a related development, Ambassador Sulunteh, speaking at a recent town hall styled meeting in Minnesota hosted by Friends of Jeremiah Sulunteh, unveiled his personal level of contributions to the Liberia development and reconstruction process. Speaking as an ordinary Liberia, Ambassador Sulunteh confirmed that he will play a key role in the upcoming general and Presidential election in Liberia. “Make no mistakes; I will play a key role in the upcoming 2017 Election in Liberia.” the Ambassador warned. The quiet and charismatic Ambassador who has also been awarding academic scholarships to qualified Liberians at U.S colleges and Universities through his personal philanthropy initiatives said,: “We should not leave the future of our country to chance comes 2017.” said Amb. Sulunteh. Making direct reference on his level of involvement comes 2017, the Ambassador concluded that “Jesus Christ” didn’t die because he couldn’t prevent death; He died to save mankind; therefore, when we accepted to step aside during the 2011 Senatorial Elections, we did not do so because we could not win Bong County, we did so because we wanted to save the soul of our party and the county" We must fully participate in the change in 2017 that we so desire for our one and only country Liberia.”