Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai Jr. has assured Liberians that they will be pleased about the performance and the level of protection the country’s security personnel will provide following the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) by the end of this month.
“If we look at today’s environment as compared to 2003, situation has completely changed for the better,” he told the Daily Observer in a brief interview. “Today, we have institutions that perform, including the judiciary that functions, civil society also functioning, free media environment, our democracy that led to two elections, which tells you that Liberians themselves are their own security.”
Samukai said Liberians are already engaged into providing an enabling environment to do all the positive things, adding that UNMIL presence has helped Liberians to reach this level.
He also said there is collaboration between the private security and the national security as UNMIL drawdown, but the government or national security will not provide arms for the private security.
“UNMIL believes that Liberians are in the position to manage their own security and we have developed such capacity over the years to enable us manage such affairs. I don’t think that having all the huge security presence is needed now,” he said.
He said the military as well as any other security apparatuses are ready to take over responsibility for the nation’s security after UNMIL mandate ends this month.
Samukai said the numerical strength of the army is sufficient to handle security matters in the wake of UNMIL departure, because the military has been undergoing training in preparation for the drawdown exercise.
To some Liberians, the coming of June 30, was a myth, but the reality is that 13 days from the today will signify the end of the UN’s military presence in Liberia since the end of the country’s civil crisis in 2003. During the 12 years of providing security to the country, the UN has been gradually drawing down its military presence, while working with local law enforcement agencies to handle the job. By Thursday, June 30, UNMIL will finally turn over its security operations to the Liberian security.
Amidst skepticism from the public, the government continues to assure its citizens of its preparedness to not just handle the herculean task of national security maintaining law and order, but with ease because, according to Defense Minister Brownie Samukai,
Liberians themselves are prepared to be a part of the process.
Samukai reiterated government’s preparedness in a brief interview with the Daily Observer yesterday.
UNMIL was established by Security Council resolution 1509 in September 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace process; protect United Nations staff, facilities and civilians; support humanitarian and human rights activities; as well as assist in national security reform, including national police training and formation of a new, restructured military.
“I think the government is ready in spite of the challenges, because whenever you have challenges, it creates an opportunity. In spite of those challenges, we are in the position to manage our own security as a people and country,” Minister Samukai declared.
According to him, there is a need to also look where the national government can invest more resources to beef up the existing strength and manpower, including managing transport capability, providing for personnel and making sure that these tasks are performed to the needs of the people.
“From our side, we believe that the roles and responsibilities that we have are easily executable because we have been doing the preparedness for a period of time. We are to the point where all of our security forces, I mean the police, our immigration personnel, have been going through different kinds of training, different kinds of operations, different kinds of scenarios exercises, including our participation in the UN Mission. So, we are very confident in the capability of the security sector,” he assured.
Update on Current Recruitment
Samukai said the military had graduated about 154 additional personnel after they completed their advanced individual training (AIT) to prepare the army for the different roles and responsibilities it will play as a result of the drawdown of UNMIL.
“We also completed the training of 154 recruits and we are now vetting about 400 persons to identify those that would be selected for the new round of recruitment process. Initially 4,000 persons applicants took the aptitude test and were screened,” he said.