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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.