The chief of the Border Patrol Unit at the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) assigned in Nimba County, over the weekend denied any dissident activity in the county. He instead confirmed normal business activities ongoing along the Liberian/Ivorian bordering towns and villages.
BIN Maj. J. Gondah Walkie, Jr., disclosure came against the backdrop of recent media reports of skirmishes (clashes) and the alleged training of dissidents along the borders.
Maj. Walkie made the disclosure on Friday, February 28, in the Town of Gborplay near the Liberian/Ivorian border crossing point in Tweh River District where the Minister of National Defense, Brownie J. Samukai, Jr. headed a delegation of security personnel on a visit to the borderlines.
Minister Samukai’s tour along the borders became necessary when it was reported a fortnight ago that renewed mercenary activities and dissident training were emerging along the Liberian/Ivorian border in River Gee County, Southeast-Liberia and Nimba County.
Following the reports, Minister Samukai in several interviews with international media, denied any Liberian gunmen attacking Ivorian security forces.
To prove his point, Minister Samukai toured most of the towns and villages along the border crossing points in Nimba County over the weekend.
The tour took the minister and his entourage, which included BIN Border Patrol officers, to the towns of Duulay in Gbelay-geh District, Gborplay Town, Beo Yorlay, Bongarplay, and Blemieplay (all in the proximity of the Ivorian borders) among other places.
Briefing reporters at the end of the two day visit, Samukai disclosed that the exercise was necessary to assure local inhabitants of government’s commitment to protecting lives and property while maintaining peace and stability with her neighbors.
For example, in the Town of Bongaplay, the Minister held an overnight meeting with representatives of the youth, the elders, local women’s group, and other stakeholders along the borders.
He gave them further assurance of government’s commitment to improving the lives of Liberians through the implementation of developmental projects.
As far as Blemieplay Town Chief, Peter Blemie, was concerned, residents on either side of the border were one family, and “we must live at peace with each other.”
Based on that, Mr. Blemie dispelled rumors of any activity with the propensity to resurrect confusion.
He then appealed to Minister Samuaki to construct a primary school in the area for the growing number of children of school-going age.
Cooper Dehmie, a youth representative of Bongarplay, reported success stories of business activities along the borders. He then expressed gratitude to Minister Samukai and his team for the visit, adding that it reawakened the spirit of unity among residents of the areas.
When the report of alleged dissident activities surfaced recently, Samukai challenged Ivorian authorities making accusations against Liberia to provide evidence of their allegations.
He described the reports of Liberian mercenaries going into La Cote d’Ivoire as “false and misleading.”
As such, he has assured the Ivorian government of Liberia's support in protecting their mutual borders at all times.
Covered with vast forest land, Liberia's border with Ivory Coast is one of the most porous in West Africa.
"There are no Liberian mercenaries leaving here to go and fight in the Ivory Coast. If they say they have seen mercenaries, I challenge them to produce evidence to the international community. We have re-assured Ivoirians that not even an inch of Liberian territory would be used to destabilize any country," Minister Samukai asserted.
According to him, Liberian security forces were in excellent relations with their Ivorian counterparts and the two sides are constantly exchanging notes.
Ivorian security said recently that gunmen from Liberia entered the Southern part of the country, and attacked security forces where four persons were said to have been killed and others arrested.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producing nation, is recovering from a decade-long political crisis that culminated in 2011 in a brief civil war after Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his election defeat to the current President Alassane Ouattara.
Supporters of former President Gbagbo, who had to be ousted from power by force in April 2011 after losing an election, have been blamed for several of the attacks that have taken place in that country.