The reported illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, which undermines security and the rule of law, will not be tolerated following the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) June 30 drawdown closing date, Defense Minister Browne J. Samukai Jr. has told the Daily Observer.
Minister Samukai is of the opinion that non-state actors, mainly private security guards, bearing arms will be a factor that would cause chaos and an overlap of security functions during the execution of standard operating procedures (SOPs) by state-security personnel in the case of an event.
He said that the government will not give weapons (arms, guns) to those he described as “non-state-actors” so as not to create confusion in the execution of duties when the need arises.
Samukai spoke with specific reference to private security guards, who in recent times have been hinting on being allowed to bear arms to beef up the country’s security in the wake of UNMIL’s departure.
He distanced himself from such a suggestion, which he believes has the propensity to create anarchy in the Liberian society.
“I do not support the decision of non-state actors or private security guards bearing arms claiming to be handling the affairs of the country,” Samukai said in an interview with this newspaper yesterday.
According to him, non-state actors should not handle the affairs of the state by carrying small arms or light weapons in any case, “once that person does not have the requisite security training or assigned to specific training apparatus such as the military, the police or the bureau of immigration.”
He said the country’s national security apparatuses are fully prepared and ready to handle security-related matters in the absence of UNMIL.
However, Minister Samukai added that there is collaboration between private security guard services and the state security sector to ensure that the country remains peaceful at all times.
The Minister meanwhile called on Liberians not to panic about UNMIL’s drawdown, noting that the military is “adequately prepared and well capacitated to handle the affairs of the country.”
He said that the army has been trained in various capacities including managing unrest, logistics, and providing for personnel, which now placed them in the position to secure the country’s borders from any would-be external threats.
He explained that Liberians understand that their security is in their own hands.
“Huge military and other security are not what we need now; civil society organizations, democratic actors, and other institutions are all onboard the country’s quest to continue the peaceful path we enjoy today,” Samukai noted.