The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and Coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia, Karin Landgren, has called on all sectors of Liberian society to play their part in the consolidation of peace and in charting a bright future for their country.
"We look to the Liberian people to be law-abiding citizens and do their part in maintaining law and order. We look to Liberian political leaders to consolidate the country's democratic institutions and strengthen accountability and transparency. We look to civil society and the media for their independence and their engagement," SRSG Landgren stated at a ceremony in Buchanan to honor 700 Ghanaian soldiers with the United Nations Peacekeeping Medal for their dedicated service to the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
SRSG Landgren emphasized the need for national engagement in political processes by all sectors of society and at all levels, urging Liberians to participate actively in the ongoing debates on national reconciliation and constitutional reform.
The UN envoy said UNMIL's gradual hand-over of security responsibilities to Liberia's own security agencies was a result of Liberia's growing stability and the development of its democratic institutions. She added that UNMIL and the Government of Liberia were working together closely on planning the transition. She stressed that, "Our guiding principle at all times is that Liberian security must be maintained."
Turning to the Ghanaian peacekeepers who have been serving in Grand Bassa, Rivercess and Sinoe counties for the past six months, SRSG Landgren hailed their distinguished contribution to the restoration of peace and stability to Liberia, highlighting their diligence in carrying out security-related duties.
She also acknowledged their exceptional humanitarian interventions, such as free medical services to the local population, donations to vulnerable groups, teaching assistance in educational institutions and the establishment of a technical institute that is teaching technical and vocational skills to many Liberian youths. "This is an excellent example of making a lasting difference to the lives of the people in the local community," the SRSG told the Ghanaian soldiers.
As part of the overall transition plan, the Ghanaian Contingent will re-deploy to Lofa County by the end of this year, while UNMIL's civilian and police presence will remain in Buchanan. In Cestos City, Rivercess County, UNMIL is also drawing down its military presence, while maintaining a quick response police capacity in Buchanan to support the Liberia National Police.
Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony were: Acting Force Commander, Brigadier General John Kwasie; a special delegation from Ghana, led by Rear Admiral Mohammed Tahiru; Ghanaian Ambassador to Liberia, H.E. Kenneth Asare Bosompem; Armed Forces of Liberia Chief of Staff, Major General Suraj Abdurrahman; Superintendent of Grand Bassa County Madam Etwida Cooper and other UNMIL senior military and civilian staff.