Liberia: 'Blue Helmet'-Protected Democracy

The current peace, security and stability that characterized the post-war era in Liberia have been largely attributed to the unwavering efforts and operations of the United Nations troops stationed in the country.

A political activist, Mr. Menipakei Dumoe at a phone-in talk show hosted by the Truth Breakfast Show yesterday in Monrovia, described the existing political system as 'Blue Helmet' protected-democracy of which the nation and people must be grateful to.

The Blue Helmet is a symbolic expression of an internationally recognized classification of troops contributed to the United Nations by its members for global peace keeping purpose with all of them using blue helmets of which the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) is an integral part.

However, a serious debate continues to occupy every facet of the country about the ability or inability of the present government to handle the entire security affairs specifically in maintaining security throughout the country as being undertaken currently by UNMIL.

While some propounded that the UN peacekeeping troops, one of the largest in its peace mission will not be stationed here forever, out of the process of gradualism, the home-based trained security networks as well as the new Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) should be allowed to assume their statutory responsibilities respectively.

Through this they argued, the home-grown security institutions and the new AFL will begin to win for themselves confidence and trust that will enable them to level up to the tasks of which they were constitutionally created.

But the other side of the debate squarely puts it bluntly that the present home-grown security forces inclusively, despite their internationally supervised trainings and exposures, they are not still ready to fully shoulder the tasks and most importantly, they do not have the capacity coupled with the modern and sophisticated military hardwares including the advance and high technologies that are found in the arsenal of UNMIL; and any rapid turnover will be premature with an adverse impact on our emerging democracy.

When the news about the draw down of UNMIL was made public, certain quarters of the society became stunned with uneasiness and uncertainty as to what would become of their security which was stressed considering a nation that has been plagued with over ten years of bitter bloodbath.

But in allaying their fear, UNMIL said although it was drawing down its forces, it was in no way an indication that they were pulling out immediately. UNMIL reiterated that it remains committed in ensuring that the peace and security now existing in the country would be protected and sustained and that there was no need to panic and feel insecure because they were not leaving just now.

Again, Mr. Dumoe who is also an Editorial Consultant of the Parrot Newspaper added that with the Blue Helmet protected-democracy realizing some positive marks mainly in the realm of free expression and relative calm, the people should now begin to see the "Iron" part of the Lady (reference to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dubbed: Iron Lady) in battling the fierce menace of corruption which has become a chronic thorn in the side of the governance system.

The former fearless and tough talking spokesman of the defeated Opposition Political Party, Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) noted that for too long the people have experienced much of the "Lady" in other activities of governance which is profoundly appreciated, but what is needed urgently is the "Iron" part in order to prosecute through due process, those allegedly hooked for abusing government's funds and resources as reflected in the numerous audit reports from the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

According to him, while it is commendable that the government has been rated for working in reducing the alarming speed of corruption in the public sector as published in the various indexes of Transparent International and other corruption monitoring entities, the government should not be glued to such, instead it needs to practically produce more convincing and tangible results that can be vividly felt on the ground rather than holding on tightly to the indexes that are not totally reliable.

He said that some of those allegedly linked to corruption from the various audit reports have not faced due process in the courts while the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) continues to cry out for more prosecuting lawyers to enhance its task.

But the dust did not properly settle down when the Press Secretary to the President, Mr. Jeronlinmek Piah called in to put certain issues into proper perspective including having too much of the "Lady" and that the urgent need for the "Iron" part of the Lady can not be over emphasized.

Presidential Press Secretary Piah pointed out that the "Iron" part of the "Lady" has been shown as evident by the establishment of functioning independent institutions clothed with the authorities to detect, investigate and forward evidences and recommendations for onward prosecution of those allegedly connected without favor clearly speaks volume.

He was also quick to added that in spite of government's efforts in the fight of corruption, the Executive is aware and maintains a fine line in respecting the doctrine of separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution of Liberia which recognizes the three distinct branches of government and their functions; meaning that the Executive will in no way interfere or dictate to the other two branches of government which include the Judiciary and the Legislature.

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