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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More