20 April 2004

Liberia: Buchanan Set for Success Story MODEL, UNIML Conduct Joint DDRR Rehearsal

Buchanan, Grand Bassa County — Momentum in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County was reportedly very high yesterday amongst the civilian population and combatants of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), in anticipation of a successful disarmament exercise today.

According to The NEWS' reporter in Buchanan, civilians yesterday turned out in their numbers along the streets and jubilantly welcomed the disarmament team of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). In a mobile phone interview from Buchanan, our reporter said combatants of MODEL and the UN peacekeepers conducted a disarmament rehearsal yesterday to ensure that the combatants were familiar with the procedures and instructions so that all may go well today. Our reporter said he saw at least two truck loads of MODEL combatants being transported to Buchanan, from the direction of Compound Number Three, Grand Bassa County. The general mood in the city of Buchanan was one of anxiety that the disarmament process there would proceed smoothly to become a more success story than Gbarnga.

A commander of the MODEL forces overseeing his troops' participation in the disarmament exercise, General Harris Quah was reported to have been cooperating with UNMIL and satisfactorily coordinating his troops.

However, MODEL reportedly made one reservation yesterday over a private security firm contracted to assist with security. According to our reporter, MODEL alleged that some of the individuals serving within the private security firm were former combatants. But by press time last evening, our reporter said the matter was being resolved and that he saw no further problems.

The exercise in Buchanan today follows the successful resumption of the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) program in Gbarnga, Bong County on April 15, when combatants of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) disarmed to UNMIL.

Similar success, or perhaps even more, is expected in Buchanan today, our reporter said.

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