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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid