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ECOWAS concerned about the final departure of the United Nations mission in Liberia slated for 2018
Marcel de Souza with  Farid Zarif

Abuja, 26 April 2017.

Concerns surrounding the departure, in March 2018, of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) were discussed, on Wednesday 26 April 2017, in Abuja, between the President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN Under Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia, Farid Zarif.

This departure is already underway with the drastic reduction in the United Nations civilian, military and police components on the ground.

Marcel de Souza and Farid Zarif exchanged views on appropriate measures to ensure peace, stability and security in Liberia after the final withdrawal of the United Nations, especially as the country will hold its next presidential election on 10 October 2017.

For the ECOWAS Commission President, elections in Africa are generally a period of risks or unrest. To that end, he sued for the implementation of civilian and military actions by the regional organisation with support from the United Nations.

This will include assistance to Liberia’s Electoral Commission, deployment of a long-term ECOWAS Mission to work with the Commission on the voter’s register, joint ECOWAS-African Union-United Nations visit, as well as sending soldiers to Liberia.

On the issue of sending soldiers to the country, Marcel de Souza did not back the United Nations’ proposal to deploy Senegalese soldiers currently in Mali to Liberia.

«Two-third of the Malian territory is presently beyond the control of the government. Jihadists from Libya, Iraq, Syria and Sudan are wreaking havoc and committing atrocities in Mali and other ECOWAS Member States. For these reasons, it would therefore not be wise to withdraw Senegalese soldiers from Mali to be sent to Liberia », stated Marcel de Souza.  

In West Africa, we do not need a Peacekeeping Force, but rather a Peace Enforcement Force; because we need to create peace first before maintaining it, suggested M. de Souza, noting that with a Force of 5 000 men, ECOWAS could defeat these terrorists who loot and kill innocent people in the region.

«We need a new strategy and equipment to effectively combat the terrorists », he concluded.

Marcel de Souza and Farid Zarif also discussed the transfer to ECOWAS, of the United Nations Mission in Liberia’s radio station broadcasting from Monrovia.

President de Souza proposed that UNMIL Radio be handed over to ECOWAS after the withdrawal of UNMIL, and Mr. Zarif responded that the issue required further tripartite discussions of the United Nations, ECOWAS and the Government of Liberia.

«This radio station, will not only broadcast in the three official languages of ECOWAS, which are English, French and Portuguese, but also in national languages of the region’s Member States. What is more, it will be the first ECOWAS agency in Liberia », declared Marcel de Souza.

Marcel de Souza requested his Special Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs Halima Ahmed, to continue discussions with Farid Zarif on the transfer of the United Nations’ responsibilities to the regional organisation.



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