FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

26 March 2013

Liberia: 'Stable, But Fragile' - UN Secretary General Describes Liberia's Current Security Situation

Monrovia- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says Liberia's current security situation in Liberia remains stable but fragile. UN SG Ban in his twenty-fifth progress report on the United Nations Mission in Liberia to the Security Council said during the year under review there were thirty one cases of mob violence incidents reported, including four incidents of violence against national authorities and UNMIL.

The UN Secretary General says sexual violence against women and girls remained high, with approximately 70 per cent of victims being minors and nearly 18 per cent being girls under the age of 10.

"Armed robbery and violence against women and girls, including rape, continued to constitute primary security concerns. Almost half of the 211 reported armed robberies committed involved firearms," he says.

Mr. Ban in his report of February 28 released on Monday says tensions in several agricultural concession areas also continued to present security challenges.

"On 17 September, several armed individuals threatened the management and workers of Salala Rubber Corporation in Margibi County, claiming that local communities had not received promised compensation for land purchases," he says.

"On 19 November, employees at the Sime Darby plantation in Bomi County gathered to protest the disappearance of a worker, for which they blamed the company. There were also confrontations between workers and management at Cavalla and Liberia Agriculture Corporation plantations, in Maryland and Grand Bassa counties, respectively."

He reported that during the reporting period several generally peaceful demonstrations took place, in addition to three involving unrest.

"Many demonstrations involved public and private sector workers demanding salary arrears. The most prominent of those took place in Monrovia in September and October, when hundreds of students and teachers protested the non-payment of teachers' salaries, in September, 300 members of the opposition CDC party clashed with police in Monrovia over the alleged non-authorization of a march," he says.

Mr. Ban told the UN Security council that despite security concerns around the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) commemoration of the 7 November 2011 events, in which one partisan had been shot dead in a clash with security forces, a peaceful environment prevailed.

"All of the demonstrations were addressed by national security agencies, with UNMIL advice and/or operational support, and no major incidents were reported," he says.

Continued Mr. Ban: "On 22 Nmiember, a road traffic accident involving UNMIL personnel, and resulting in two deaths, prompted mob violence in Margibi County and the burning of a United Nations vehicle. On 12 December, a disturbance involving more than 100 people on the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway erupted after an Armed Forces of Liberia soldier stabbed a otorcycle taxi driver. Liberian police personnel, together with UNMIL military and police, responded to the scene in both incidents."

Wrangle over oil and the President's son

Highlighting the continuous wrangle between the Legislative and the executive branch of government, the UN SG acknowledged that during the reporting period, relations between the legislature and the executive have at times been strained, with some opposition legislators threatening to commence impeachment proceedings against the President

He told the Security Council that some legislators also expressed concern that they had been insufficiently consulted on a number of executive-led processes, including Liberia Vision 2030 and the National Reconciliation Road Map.

"One area of ongoing 'contention has been the role of the National Oil Company of Liberia in initiatives to reform the oil sector. The legislature, which launched its own reform, expressed reservations about a parallel executive-led reform process nominated by the National Oil Company of Liberia, whose Chairman of the Board is the son of the President," said Mr. Ban.

The UN SG also told the Security Council that the Liberian Senate held hearings on the General Audit Commission's dismissal of 46 staff members in November 2012, allegedly because of their engagement in a National Oil Company of Liberia audit.

"Meanwhile, the audit was suspended at the request of the Board of Companies. Amid public criticism in November 2012, some university students staged a peaceful protest demanding the resignation of the Auditor General and the reinstatement of the dismissed employees. Two deputies of the Auditor General also resigned in protest in December 2012," he says.

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