Liberians Call on UN Forces to Stay

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A delegation from Liberia’s major opposition parties and civil society groups has petitioned the UN to maintain its peacekeeping forces in the country.

A 25-member delegation presented a petition to the UN’s Special Representative in Monrovia on Friday, calling for the soldiers to stay until after 2017’s general and presidential elections.

The group, under the banner of the Joint Action Committee, said their coming together was driven by their desire for stability in the country.

In the past weeks the group had threatened mass peaceful protests to make the UN extend its mandate.

Presenting the petition, Mulbah Morlu, a member of the country’s leading opposition party, Congress for Democratic Change, cited recent violent encounters between members of the president’s Executive Protection Services and members of the Liberia National Police, which he said had stoked public fears.

They also cited the recent sacking of some members of the national police force for their purported involvement in armed robberies, news of which caused public unrest.

The group believes the security of the state will be at risk if the UN departs.

The Joint Action Committee said the incidents reinforced the need for the UN to reevaluate Resolution 2229.

This UN Security Council resolution says that that by Sep. 30 this year, UNMIL would have significantly reduced its presence, leaving just 600 police officers.

In response to the petitioners, the Special Representation to the United Nations in Liberia said the decision on the future of UNMIL rested with the Security Council.

However, the local UN has promised that the petitioners’ request and concerns will be presented at a Security Council meeting on March 17.

The UN’s Dr. Farid Zarif said the Security Council does not want to “waste all the gains of the past 13 years,” adding that the UN will continue to support local government institutions.

The United Nations has been in the West African country since 2003 to oversee a peace which followed years of civil unrest which killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced many, many more.

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