RAPAPORT… U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Liberia’s progress in recovering from a brutal decade-long civil war and assured the West African nation of the United Nations assistance as he wrapped up a visit in Monrovia yesterday.
The secretary-general’s visit comes as the 15,000 strong U.N. peacekeeping mission (UNIML) deployed in Liberia since 2003 is set to begin the first phase of its drawdown process. The Security Council will decide on the next phase based upon how Liberia meets certain benchmarks.
However, the country still faces daunting challenges such as security, rule of law, and development Ki-moon said.
“As the most representative legislature in the history of this country, you have a unique chance to build a national vision for a secure, peaceful and prosperous Liberia – one that provides opportunities for all its citizens,” he said in an address to a joint session of the Liberia’s Legislature.
He also said that Liberia needs to do more to reintegrate populations affected by war and promote reconciliation and national unity, as well as ensure economic development. “Delivering the peace dividend in these areas is necessary to underpin the stability that Liberia currently enjoys,” he noted.
“In this and other challenges confronting Liberia, the entire United Nations family will work with you,” the secretary-general pledged.
Ki-moon said that his recommendations to the Security Council on the next phase of the drawdown will be linked to the government’s ability to assume full responsibility for its national security. “Our common strategic goal is to ensure that Liberia has a solid security sector – one that can stand on its own feet before UNMIL completes its withdrawal,” he said.
The Security Council is expected to review the implementation of the required benchmarks in September 2008. The withdrawal of peacekeepers is expected to be finished by 2010, one year before Liberia is scheduled to hold its second post-war presidential elections.