The U.N. security council has lifted an arms embargo on Liberia's government, saying it has made progress in rebuilding the country.
The council said late Thursday the embargo would be lifted for a 12-month trial period and would then be re-assessed.
But it said arms embargo for all non-governmental entities and individuals in Liberia would remain in place.
Liberia’s deputy information minister Cletus Sieh said the move would help Liberia in its efforts to restructure the army and other security forces.
“We are very much excited. It shows that the international community continues to show her interest and confidence in the government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It will help us to now restructure in a meaningful way our armed forces and other security forces even as UMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) is winding down her operations in Liberia,” he said.
Sieh brushed off criticism that Liberia, having gone through 14 years of a deadly civil war did not need an army.
He said Liberia, as a sovereign nation has the right to build its armed forces and to secure its own borders.
“The international community has been very much helpful and we are very much grateful. They continue take charge of the security. But they are not going to be here forever. And so the process must now begin wherein we build the security forces that will be able to take over from UMIL when the mandate of UMIL ends,” he said.
But while welcoming the progress made by the Liberian government in rebuilding the war-shattered country, the Security Council demanded that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government “make all necessary efforts to fulfill its obligations” to freeze the assets of alleged war criminals”.
The Security Council resolution followed a report by the Panel of Experts monitoring UN sanctions imposed on Liberia during its civil war.
The panel found that the Liberian government had not made any movement to freeze the assets of associates of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.
It cited new evidence that such individuals still had considerable financial resources.
President Sirleaf’s government has been criticized for giving jobs to some of those still on the U.N. assets freeze and travel ban.
Deputy Information Minister Sieh said President Sirleaf is trying to be inclusive as the country undergoes reconciliation.
“As we try to bring about reconciliation and healing in our country, it behooves the president to make sure that people from all sectors of our nation, irrespective of our divide, should come on board,” Sieh said.