Liberia UN peacekeepers move into rebel area for first time

“I believe this is a giant stride towards restoring peace in Liberia,” the UNMIL Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Abou Moussa, said after an advance party of 125 Pakistani soldiers deployed on Saturday in Kley Junction, about 30 kilometers northwest of Monrovia, the capital.Two days previously, LURD had halted an advance UNMIL team to press for political appointments in the government. In response, Mr. Moussa said the deployment was not up for negotiation and the UN Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, reasserted that UNMIL “will do what we need to do” in its efforts to restore stability to the West African country, which has been torn asunder by nearly 15 years of civil war.On Saturday, the peacekeepers moved in with armoured vehicles, earth moving equipment and other logistics to establish a permanent presence in the area.Immediately after the peacekeepers’ arrival in Kley Junction, LURD fighters willingly dismantled checkpoints, set fire to roadblocks and moved personal belongings onto UN trucks to be transported to Tubmanburg, 20 kilometres further on.“We are completely in support of the deployment and that is why my ground commanders and I have come to collaborate and escort your convoy to Kley Junction and Tubmanburg,” the LURD Deputy Chief of Staff said.“We are tired of war,” a LURD fighter added. “I am waiting for the UN to disarm me after this deployment.”On Friday Force Commander Opande predicted that UNMIL, with its numbers approaching half the authorized strength of 15,000, would deploy troops to three rebel strongholds in the next few days and should have most of the country covered by the end of January.Tubmnaburg is one of the three sites. The next deployment will be to Buchanan and Gbarnga on 31 December, in agreement with all the parties – the Government, LURD and a second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), which has a major base in Buchanan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *