10,000 UNMIL Soldiers for 2017 Elections?

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The drawdown of soldiers working with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) from the country has taken a new turn, with reports that some of them, at least 10,000 soldiers could remain to supervise the conduct of the 2017 general and presidential elections.
Henceforth, House Plenary in its Thursday Session, (53rd day sitting) mandated its Committees on Foreign Affairs, National Security and Defense to investigate and advise Plenary in two weeks – meaning, on or by the August 20. The decision was reached after a unanimous vote by members of that August body.
The House’s decision stemmed from an August 4, 2015 communication from Maryland County District #2 Representative, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, requesting his colleagues to prevail upon UNMIL to ensure it maintains a sizable component of its security forces in the ensuing 2017 elections.
In his mind, it would be prudent for UNMIL to maintain at least 10,000 soldiers until the 2017 elections, Chambers said in his communication.
The Maryland County Lawmaker’s communication reminded his colleagues that when the suggestion is accepted and approved, the 10,000 soldiers would remain to provide security during the conduct of the country’s political processes and even beyond the 2017 progression.
He informed his colleagues further that his request is based on the fact that UN has done excellently well in ensuring and fostering peace in Liberia and in the sub-region.
“You may quite agree with me that the issue of election is a delicate matter, and if processed wrongly or fraudulently, it would lead to violence thereby resulting to political uncertainty,” Dr. Chambers said in his letter.
The overwhelming votes from the lawmakers, confirmed their concern over the potential for tension amongst and within political parties, which might to some extent lead to widespread electoral violence or worse.
It is inarguably reasonable that Liberia, after 14 years of civil crisis, faces major challenges in the security sector coupled with the Ebola outbreak last year.
The UNMIL peace-keeping force was established in September 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement in Liberia following the resignation of President Charles Taylor and the conclusion of the second Liberian civil war. It consisted of up to 15,000 UN military personnel and 1,115 police officers, along with a civilian component. It superseded the UN Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL).
In April 2015, the Security Council authorized the drawdown for UNMIL— suspended since September due to the Ebola outbreak — and narrowed its mandate to exclude assistance for senatorial elections that were held in December 2014.
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2215 this year under United Nations Chapter VII, the Council endorsed the Secretary-General’s March 15, 2015 recommendation on the drawdown of UNMIL uniformed personnel, authorizing him to carry out the drawdown’s third phase to arrive at a military ceiling of 3,590 personnel, and reduce the police ceiling to 1,515 personnel — both by September.
The Mission’s mandate would no longer include support for senatorial elections, outlined in resolution 2190 (2014).
By other terms, the Security Council reaffirmed its expectation that the government would fully assume its complete security responsibilities no later than June 30, 2016, as well as its intention to consider the Mission’s continued reconfiguration. It requested the Secretary-General to continue streamlining UNMIL activities across its civilian, police and military components, and to consolidate its presence in line with the security transition.
In that context, the Security Council called on Liberia and La Côte d’Ivoire to continue reinforcing cooperation, particularly on the border area, and on UN entities in those countries to support those authorities.
The 2014 draft resolution contains a number of tasks for the Secretary-General in preparation for UNMIL’s anticipated departure in 2015.

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