In the wake of the UN Mission drawdown and turning over security to Liberian authorities at the end of June 2016, the French government has offered to strengthen cooperation with Liberia and its security sector amidst the global threat of terrorism.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Ambassador of France to Liberia, Ambassador Mr. Joel Godeau, made the offer during a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
He said though there is no specific or immediate threat against Liberia at this time, the country could be a soft target considering its relations with perceived enemies as was the case of some countries in the sub-region including the attack at Grand-Bassam in Côte d’Ivoire recently.
The French Ambassador to Liberia highlighted his appreciation for the splendid cooperation that has characterized relations between the Mano River countries – Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire in recent times. He noted that it is good that Mano River Union countries exchange information, including intelligence information, which is crucial in the fight against terrorism, money laundering, and other criminal acts.
Ambassador Godeau also used the opportunity to commend the government of Liberia for providing maximum security to the premises of the French Embassy near Monrovia and hoped that they can remain owing to serious terrorist threats against French targets around the world.
The French Ambassador near Monrovia commended the 53rd National Legislature for passing into law the Liberia Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015, which now regulates the possession and use of small arms and light weapons in the country. The law was passed on May 12, 2016 when the House of Representatives concurred with an earlier action of the Senate.
He informed Foreign Minister Kamara that at the United Nations Security Council a resolution has now been drafted, with the total support France, to terminate the arms sanctions imposed on Liberia as well as terminate its committee set up in 2003 to monitor the arms embargo imposed on the country. The resolution is expected to be adopted at the UN Security Council shortly.
He also thanked the Minister for the warm reception and for honoring his request for the meeting to discuss critical issues concerning Liberia-France relations.
In response, Foreign Minister welcomed the French Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry and hoped that they will continue to meet at regular intervals to discuss issues affecting both countries.
She used the opportunity to express her solidarity with the French government and people on recent deaths of 15 French citizens on the EgyptAir flight travelling from Paris, France to Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
As regards terrorism and its effect on Liberia, she admitted the country’s vulnerability, especially weaknesses in monitoring borders; but indicated that government is making serious efforts in training and equipping personnel of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization to be present at all entry and exit points across the country.
She expressed her thanks to France for its offer of collaboration with Liberia’s security sector. “I’m grateful for the offer of assistance where necessary and I am heartened that you are continuing your collaboration with the heads of our security agencies,” she said, noting that Liberia needs the support from all partners, including France.
Foreign Minister Kamara also thanked France for its support to the draft resolution that will lift the arms embargo on Liberia for good.
Liberia’s top diplomat and the French Ambassador later discussed bilateral issues affecting the two countries.