Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Lewis G. Brown, says the Government of Liberia will not hesitate to drastically punish any Liberian caught in connection with the crisis in La Côte d’Ivoire.
In a strongly-worded statement during the Ministry’s regular Thursday press briefing, Minister Brown announced that the Government of Liberia remains committed to the cordial relations between and among countries surrounding Liberia, and will do nothing to undermine those relations.
“We realize that there is no abundance of work here, but one can find different things to do besides being a mercenary to fight in another country and disturb their peace. If anyone is caught, this government is going to very serious action against that person,” Minister Brown said.
According to the government’s spokesman, the border between Liberia and The Ivory Coast is well-secured through efforts by the Defense Ministry and other security apparatuses including the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).
He said it is monitored to the extent that no group of people will use the territorial confines of Liberia to enter The Ivory Coast to destabilize the government of that country.
He repeatedly said that it is time that, if anyone has a relative planning to take part or is a part of the crisis in The Ivory Coast to advise the person to leave because if any Liberian is caught, such person will not receive any mercy from the Government of Liberia.
Minister Brown also disclosed that government has launched a full investigation in allegations of forced repatriation of Ivorian refugees in Liberia, back to The Ivory Coast.
He declared that Liberia respects every international treaty and is cognizant of the safety and human right of refugees. This government will not be inhumane to forcibly repatriate refugees whose home country is in conflict.
In her comment following Minister Brown’s statement, US Ambassador Deborah Malac noted that they are anxiously waiting to hear from the Liberian Government’s results from the investigation related to the forceful repatriation of Ivorian refugees.
The instability in La Côte d’Ivoire started in September, 2002, when former military leader Robert Gaui was murdered in Abidjan.
Following the killing of Gen. Guei, a rebel group attacked Boakai in the north followed by another attack in Danane, on November 28, of the same year.
During the Danane attack, many fighters from Liberia were crossing over to The Ivory Coast fighting alongside rebels to overthrow the government of former indicted President, Laurent Gbagbo, who is currently at The Hague to face war crime charges and crimes against humanity.
In 2010, after The Ivory Coast’s disputed election that brought President Alassane Ouattara to power, the civil crisis exacerbated and law and order broke down completely.
With the intervention of French forces, President Gbagbo was arrested in 2011 and sent to The Hague to answer to war crimes.
Amid the drama, mercenary activities with featured a Liberian connection have often been reported.
To iron out the differences between the two countries, Presidents Outtara and Johnson Sirleaf last year held a palava hut discussion in Grand Gedeh County to build confidence and commit to resisting either territory being used by one group to destabilize the other.