Security Council Reaffirms Support for Liberian Government

United Nations Sercetary General, Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Sercetary General, Ban Ki-moon
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Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has lauded countries which continue to provide support for  Liberia’s security sector reform process, and expresses hope that the United Nations Security Council will find additional sources of support to provide additional training for the police.
“We would like to continue and enhance support to the security sector and to implement our security sector reform,” President Johnson Sirleaf later told a joint press conference.  The Liberian leader also spoke of justice and the rule of law to enable the country meet its reform program. 


Speaking Wednesday in Monrovia during discussions with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liberian Government and local United Nations officials, the head of the visiting United Nations Security Council delegation, Ambassador Susan Rice, noted with satisfaction, the level of progress taking place in Liberia.


The United States Permanent Representative to the Security Council urged the Liberian leadership to continue toward the path of national reconciliation, development and reconstruction.
The President briefed members of the Security Council on the country’s development agenda and the progress made in the implementation of the agenda, which has been built around a Poverty Reduction Strategy, otherwise known has “Lift Liberia.” 
Despite the progress, the President informed the UN officials that the current economic meltdown continues to affect the gains the Government has made toward economic revitalization.  The President said Government has put in place measures to help tackle the effects of the global economic problem.  “Our people are being encouraged to go back to the soil and grow more food,”  the President said. 


The Liberian leader noted that Government with its international partners has begun initiating programs aimed at introducing mechanized farming to help increase the productive capacity of the local farmer.


On security in Liberia and the sub region, the President spoke of steady progress toward the restoration of democracy in the neighboring countries of Guinea and Ivory Coast. “We continue to enjoy good relations with our neighbors,” she noted, despite the fragility of the security situation in the sub region.


The President also spoke of the progress in the reconstitution of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and pointed out that much work was still ahead to bring the army to full strength to meet the development challenges of the country. President Johnson Sirleaf also spoke about the need to provide more training for the Liberian National Police to make the force more professionally. 
 The United Nations Security Council has reaffirmed its continued support for the Government and people of Liberia in the rebuilding process, as Liberia works toward strengthening the foundations of sustainable peace, constitutional democracy, and economic development. 


The Wednesday’s discussions covered several areas of in Liberia’s reconstruction drive, with particular emphasis on peace and security, and the effects of the global economic meltdown on Liberia. Ambassador Rice agreed that Justice and the rule of law require the most urgent and sustained attention and look forward to working continuously to strengthen capacity in both areas.
Addressing journalists at the end of a whirlwind 24-hour visit to Liberia, the head of the 15-member visiting UN Security Council delegation, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice said the Security Council imposed those sanctions and has not to date taken a decision to lift them.


She emphasized, in very brief terms, that the UN Security Council will maintain sanctions on those individuals the Council continues to believe pose a risk to Liberia and regional peace and security through their actions. There is a current travel ban and asset freeze that remains in effect.
The UN Security Council delegation was on a one week visit to Africa which included stops in Ethiopia, Rwanda and DR Congo. In Liberia, the delegation assessed the general progress in the country’s transition to peace, stability and development after years of conflict; as well as the performance of the UN Mission in Liberia and its future role in Liberia.


Speaking on specific areas of UN concentration following discussions with the UN Security Council delegation, Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf emphasized that Liberian needs continued and enhanced support to the security and the implementation of the security sector reform as well as in the area of justice and the rule of law.


Also commenting, Ms. Rice expressed a similar view on behalf of the  UN Security Council delegation that the areas of security sector reform and justice and the rule of law are among those that require the most urgent and sustained attention.


She noted that UNMIL is engaged in both areas and they look forward to its continued support for Liberia as they work to strengthen capacity in both of those crucial areas. 
When quizzed on her impression of the security situation here, not speaking definitively on the security situation due to their being in Liberia for only 24-hours, Ms Rice did note that from what they have heard and seen, there is a general degree of relative stability and calm despite significant instances of violent crime.


The United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations pointed out the security environment in Liberia needs close attention and care. “It is critically important the security forces and police evolve into a fully effective, trained and equipped body that will provide effective protection for the people.”


On the current drawn down plan of the United Nations Military Mission in Liberia, Ambassador Rice said, the insights and impressions gain from the visit to Liberia, which have come from discussions with a with a broad spectrum of society, “an assessment of the situation will inform our decision-making as we go forward…as we receive the recommendation of the Technical Mission, as we review the mandate of UNMIL in September.” 


She described the trip to Liberia as importantly useful because it would provide the Security Council with the insight, taking into consideration the security situation and its fragility.
“We will bear that in mind as we make decisions on the way going forward,” the US United Nations Permanent ambassador asserted. Responding to questions on the continued imposition of traveling restrictions on a number of former Liberian Government officials and other residents, Ambassador Rice said: “The UN Security Council continues to maintain sanctions on certain individuals who the Council continues to believe pose a risk to Liberia and to regional peace and security through their actions.  There is a current travel ban and asset freeze which remains in effect.”


Members of the Security Council arrived in Liberia Tuesday for a two-day visit to, among other things, review the progress in the implementation of UNMIL’s mandate, and assess the operational capacity and sustainability of the Liberian National Police. The visit also afforded the delegation an opportunity to assess other national security institutions and progress made in training the Armed Forces of Liberia. The United Nations Security Council delegation’s visit to Liberia also included visits to Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Ms. Rice enumerated the Liberian leader’s vision to transform Liberia from a fragile state emerging from conflict to one that is self-sufficient and a proud and strong member of the comity of nations. “I think we are all encouraged that she has the vision and the will to continue to lead her country in that direction and it is our privilege to be supportive of her and that progress and that of her entire government and the people of Liberia,” the US diplomat stressed.