Minister Samukai made the disclosure Thursday at the ministry’s Barclay Training Center (BTC) office in Monrovia, where the outgoing United States Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, paid a farewell call on the Minister and staff.
Samukai suggested that some of the UNMIL facilities mounted across the country remain to be used for the “good of the country in the face of mainlining peace and stability.”
“We as a Government have started negotiating with the UNMIL hierarchy, while they are in transition, to allow our security forces take over most of their military facilities, including the hardware to maintain the country’s ongoing peace and stability,” Minister Samukai said.
Some of the military hardware and facilities at the various border entry points across the country, Samukai said, should remain in place to be used and/or be manned by Liberian security personnel, who will include soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
In the face of the drawdown of UNMIL troops, Samukai said, it would not be best for UNMIL to dismantle its military apparatuses around the country, “because most of those facilities [cannot be removed and or transferred] to another country.
“We will… dialogue with [UNMIL’S] leadership, even at the UN headquarters in New York, [and] negotiate with them not to dismantle the facilities of security interest, as they will benefit us in so many ways,” the Defense Minister said.
The numerical strength of the AFL has not yet reached the capacity required to handle security independently, Minister Samukai said. As such, “the Liberian National Police (LNP), officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), as well as customs officers, will formed part of the joint security operations.”
Among the UNMIL facilities to be turned over to the AFL are the communication devices erected at the various borders, military hardware such as artilleries and armor carriers, as well as earth-moving equipment.
The Defense Minister indicated that should these facilities, remain, Liberian security personnel will make as good use of them in maintaining peace and security as UNMIL has.
Ambassador Greenfield’s farewell statement was full of praises and hope expressed for post-war reconstruction of the country’s security sector.
“I am glad and grateful to your country’s partners to see the AFL restructured, and hope this trend will continue to serve as a true reflection of your good work as minister of National Defense,” the US Envoy told Minister Samukai and his staff.
It is expected that the peace-keeping forces serving with UNMIL will depart in short order, in line with the drawdown plan initiated by the UN Security Council.