The Senate is said to be planning a series of consultations with high level security officials within the Executive Branch of the Government.
Pro Tempore Armah Jallah, briefing Legislative Reporters, said that during the consultations, the Senate hopes to strategize on how to implement recommendations contained in a report submitted by its Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence & Veteran Affairs (CDSIVA) chaired by Lofa County Senator Stephen Zargo, in anticipation of the UNMIL drawdown.
In April, the plenary of the Senate mandated the committee to work with national security apparatus in preparation for UNMIL’s drawdown, with a view to finding out whether or not Liberia’s security institutions are prepared to take over UNMIL’s responsibility.
To achieve this milestone, the committee is suggesting a national security dialogue.
According to Pro Temp Jallah and Senator Zargo, “the Senate leadership will engage in a series of consultations to ensure that a security vacuum is not created after the departure of UNMIL.”
It may be recalled that in early March, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence warned in a letter to Senate plenary that “unless some serious efforts are made to beef-up our national security prior to the conclusion of the UNMIL drawdown, the security of this country could be at risk.”
The Grand Bassa lawmaker then requested her colleagues to invite the relevant national security authorities for an urgent hearing in executive session.
Some of the issues raised by Senator Lawrence included whether the army is at optimal strength or does it require additional soldiers in order for it to become a viable army; and whether the police and immigration are sufficiently equipped to be able to assume their respective mandates to defend the country.
It was as a result of that letter that the plenary voted to send it to the committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs, and Judiciary, with the directive to do further consultations and report back to that body.