Last Friday-1 July 2016- would go down the annals of Liberian history as an important day. As a day in which the Government of Liberia took over security responsibilities from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) following 13 years of unbroken peace.
Current wave of mob violence suggests an episodic security threat that a strong security apparatus is required to manage. We are of the opinion that limited uprising could lead to wider insurrection and as we prepare for the next Presidential and Parliamentarian elections, there is need to rumours, fears and doubts.
The words out there, in the public, is that Liberia is not ready to undertake such enormous responsibility, that our police are ill equipped, ill trained; our soldiers are not many; insulting our elected officials as foolish, chicken and only about one-third of planned security transitions goals have been achieved.
Such unscripted comments, remarks and rumours provide a bleak snapshot of Liberia after UNMIL. The blame for ongoing violence in Liberia and restriction of freedom of the press should not be placed on UNMIL’s departure. Rather, the obstacles for peace created by disenchantment among young people, deteriorating public utilities, corruptions and weak economy should not go unchallenged and unaddressed.
If young people had one percent of hope that there would be any peace from UNMIL imminent departure, then this is the time to do something about it. We now need a genuine commitment to peace not obstacles to peace.
It is time to avoid sentiments and pitfalls that serve as obstacles to peace. The drawdown and imminent departure of UNMIL from Liberia and the increase in armed robbery might reflect loss of hope that conflict would end, and as some would tend to make us believe that an unstable Liberia is already in place. We should not lose hope; rather we should take on the responsibility entrusted to us with confidence and commitment that would allow peace to prevail.
The success criterion of any peacekeeping mission anywhere in the world is measured by the departure of the ‘blue helmet’ and not by their continuous presence and services. Messengers of Peace (MOP) – Liberia believes that the momentum for sustainable peace and development is already in full swing and we should not allow any obstacle to derail it.
The words of Farid Zarif, the UNSG at the handover ceremony last Friday should reverberate along the corridors of power and amongst young people in Liberia. We need better “intelligence” and “early warning’ systems that could settle disputes before they became violent. Liberia, he went on needs to do more work to control weapons in private and government hands. The Government of Liberia should make laws and enforce them in a way that builds confidence among the people of Liberia.
In addressing the obstacles to peace, we need to motivate young people into action. Support Non-Governmental Organizations to promote peace, stability and security in the country. If we fail to assume our own security responsibility now, then remain impediment to peace.
Until next week, when we continue our dialogue among Peace Messengers-What young people say is their recipe for peace, it is Peace First, Peace above all else. May Peace prevail on earth!