News / Africa

Liberians React to Temporary Lifting of Arms Embargo

The temporary lifting of that embargo is meant to help government and UN security forces, but Liberians are divided about whether the move will help.

Liberians React to Temporary Lifting of Arms Embargo
Liberians React to Temporary Lifting of Arms Embargo

Multimedia

Audio

The U.N. Security Council has lifted its arms embargo on Liberia for one year, primarily to allow its peacekeeping mission there to receive military equipment.  But it also allows the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to acquire arms and training to fight crime.

Government misuse of force under former President Charles Taylor brought about the arms embargo 10 years ago.  Its lifting, even temporarily, has been met with both pride and worry among Liberians still recovering from a long civil war.

Businessman Matthew Wesseh says the move recognizes the progress the government has made to restore security in Liberia.

"It is the constitutional responsibility of the government to protect its citizens against external forces," he said.  "We are not opting for external aggression.  But it is within the purview of every government the world over to protect its citizens."

Liberians React to Temporary Lifting of Arms Embargo
Liberians React to Temporary Lifting of Arms Embargo

More than arms, Wesseh says it is the proper training of security forces that will prevent a repeat of abuses under former President Taylor and former President Samuel Doe.

"My government, the government of Liberia, must be in a position to treat this issue with care and caution so that those who are going to carry arms in this country must be people who are trained, who understand that indeed the issue of human rights is around, and nobody can use their arms to suppress or intimidate any peaceful citizen in this country and think that he or she will get away with impunity," he added.

The United Nations is helping to train a new generation of soldiers and police in Liberia.

Student Amazee Quayesee hopes arming that new police force will reduce violent crime.

"Armed robbery in this country is on the rampage," he said.  "The government is trying to put in mechanisms to stop it, but it is still going on the rampage.  So for me, I feel the arms embargo that was lifted by the international community is very, very helpful for the government to protect its citizens."

Youth leader E. Barclay Carr says there is no shortage of weapons in Liberia.  He fears the embargo's suspension will only lead to more crime.

"There is a security implication relative to the arms embargo being lifted," he noted.

Carr says the history of Liberia's struggle makes it too unstable a place for more weapons.

"In Liberia, for nearly 15 years, people got used to arms," he added.  "People used arms for their survival.  So now if the arms embargo has been lifted, people will start trading arms in this country."

Businessman Francis Manney agrees that it is too soon to suspend the embargo.

"To me I feel it is inappropriate now to lift the arms embargo for the fact that the peace in Liberia is fragile," he said.  "The total manpower of the military that should have been trained has not reached the mark. Our borders are still vulnerable."

Manney is concerned by the instability in neighboring Guinea and by supporters of former President Taylor who are angry about his ongoing trial for crimes against humanity.

"There are people who are having mixed feelings among themselves," he added.  "And so these people have the power.  They have the finances.  Now if you should lift the arms embargo today, I am afraid that there will be many arms smuggled into Liberia, and it will cause serious problems for Liberia, because there is still some divide in our Liberian society."

Recognizing Liberia's still-fragile peace, the Security Council extended its travel ban on key members of the Taylor administration.  The U.N. says its force remains in charge of overall security in Liberia.  It sees the temporary lifting of the arms embargo as a chance for the current government to fight crime, help secure its borders, and combat piracy and smuggling.

Reporting by Prince Collins in Monrovia

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid