Monday, March 12, 2012

UNMIL Exit Not Soon

TAM Head of Mission Predicts Longer Stay As UNMIL Gets Reconfigured Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations and head of the United Nations (UN) third Technical Assessment Mission (TAM) to Liberia has predicted that the UN Mission in Liberia could spend more years in the country before the mission is withdrawn. According to Mr. Mulet when he addressed a news conference last Friday at the UNMIL Pan African Plaza Headquarters in Monrovia, an exit strategy for UNMIL would be premature; rather the mission which has been in the country for about nine years would be reconfigured to support the priorties of the Liberian Government. He said members of TAM has been in the country for about two weeks and has been holding series of consultative meetings with state actors on the progress the country has made since the end of the civil conflict that plagued the nation. Among those with whom the TAM has met, are President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Several Cabinet Ministers and some stake holders who have given the assessment mission information that could reflect a well rounded view of the entire situation in the before the TAM arrived. Though he did not disclose the details from the meetings, Mr. Mulet said the UNMIL will leave the country when the Government of Liberia becomes fully ready to take on the roles being occupied by the mission. “We have been meeting with the president and other stakeholders to discuss the remarkable progress the country have made since 2003. Let me say this, UNMIL is not leaving now. An exit strategy for the mission will be premature. Right now our [UN] focus will be on building the capacity of the various sectors in the country,” Mr. Mulet said. From all indications, it seems that the UNMIL has completed phase 1 of its existence in the country which has to do with the consolidation of peace and is currently at phase 2 where it is implementing draw downs and providing supports to the government to build a vibrant society that would sustain the peace after phase 3 of the mission which is withdrawal. According to the TAM Head of Mission, there still exist challenges and risks in the country in areas of economy and social development, unemployment, and nation’s security sector among others. He said because the country is fast evolving, there was a need for the UNMIL to adapt their over all strategy to meet the needs of present-day Liberia; thus prompting the reconfiguration of the mission. “You are adapting your own priorities now. We too have to adapt to support the government. During the reconfiguration of the mission, for instance, there maybe some draw downs, like we could be reducing the Military force and keep the UNPOL and the FPU; but we will do nothing to distort the peace in Liberia,” Mr. Mulet said. Asked how soon could he predict that the UNMIL will be pulling out of the country, Mr. Mulet said the mission coming to an end depends on the government own speed in preparation to take over from the mission. The Assistant Secretary-General of Peace Keeping Operations stated that there could be more Technical Assessment Missions coming to the country over the next four years to view the progress the country would make during the reconfigured stay of UNMIL. Mr. Muler re-emphasized the need for a stronger economy, social and budgetary empowerment strategy in the country in preparation for the Mission’s withdrawal. He called on all Liberians, international partners and the UN to work together to improve the Liberian society. Although he did not say that the Liberian Government activities was centralized or concentrated in Montserrado alone, Mr. Mulet stated that deconcentration and decentralization of all every public activities are part of a democratic process and Liberia must work towards that. Mr. Mulet recommitted the United Nations to stand by Liberia, one of its funding member states, during its endeavor toward lasting peace. Meanwhile, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to Liberia, Mr. Moustapha Soumare, also at the news conference, answered to questions of alleged rebel activities in the forest of Liberia. The acting SRSG said, the issue is of concern to the UN as it is to the people and government of Liberia. He re-echoed that investigators from UNMIL as well as the Liberian government are probing the allegation whether it is factual or mare speculation. “The UN remains committed to the sustainable peace in Liberia and will do all it can to keep that peace unhampered,” he said.

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