The Government of Liberia is going through an embarrassing situation at its border with neighboring Ivory Coast, involving cross border attacks allegedly by Liberian mercenaries last Friday, June 8, 2012 in the Ivorian town of Tie, which left at least seven UN peacekeepers killed in ambush. The government here has condemned the arm attack against the UN peacekeepers and subsequently announced series of measures, including immediate closure of the border with the Ivory Coast and deployment of troops of the Armed Forces of Liberia there, among others.
In an official press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, government also announced other measures to ease tension at the border, including the reinforcement of the presence of police and immigration personnel, suspension of mining activities and relocation of Ivorian refugee camps along the border.
However, what have claimed serious public concern are persistent reports of alleged training on the Liberian side of the border and the recruitment of Liberian mercenaries. An Amnesty International recent report disclosed the recruitment of child soldiers from Liberia by supporters of ex-Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, who are said to be gearing up to wage a war against current President Qattarra.
Liberia currently plays host to tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees as the result of the 2010 hostilities in that country, which ousted Mr. Gbagbo and subsequently landed him in the International Criminal Court to face prosecution for war crimes charges. Although the Liberian Government has dismissed the Amnesty report as baseless and assured that it has no hand or direct involvement in the alleged training of dissidents on its territories for subversive activities against a neighboring state, the smoke from the Liberian side of the border has further heightened suspicions, which we think should be addressed expeditiously.
Government needs to conduct a thorough investigation, particularly on the Liberian side of the border and to expel any foreign element, who may want to use Liberian territories to foment instability in the subregion. The government may not be directly involved with what has been unfolding at the border with the Ivory Coast, but it is under obligation to respond and act in a manner that would disperse any and all suspicions.
The national security apparatus should collaborate with UNMIL to get to the bottom of this incident, which seems to have the propensity not only to frighten our already war-wearied population, but scare away investors and circumvent the gains achieved over the years.