Liberia has completed disarmament but instability still threatens, Annan says

13 June 2005

Now that disarmament in Liberia has ended and armed factions have been demobilized, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed the hope that the peace process will succeed and has called on the Security Council to strengthen its peacekeeping mission and prevent illicit exports of diamonds and timber.

"With regard to the arms embargo, the conclusion of the disarmament and demobilization process and the dissolution of the armed factions signalled the successful completion of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement," he says in his latest report to the Security Council.

"Furthermore, the progress made towards organization of the October 2005 elections, as well as the progress made in other sectors, provides hope that the peace process will, in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, be brought to a successful conclusion."

On the other hand, delays in restructuring the armed forces of Liberia and in reintegrating the former combatants into society form potential sources of instability and threaten to undermine the success of the transitional process and to make it difficult to devise an exit strategy for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), he says.

"I would urge Member States and the international donor community to redouble their efforts to ensure that the National Transitional Government has the necessary technical and financial support to complete this vital military restructuring exercise and to ensure the timely reintegration of former combatants," he says.

The training and deployment of mineral inspectors and diamond agents, the organization of alluvial miners into cooperatives and the construction of an appraisal and certifying centre for rough diamonds were signs of progress towards lifting the diamond sanctions, Mr. Annan says.

Nevertheless, a major deterrent in ensuring that rough diamonds do not fall into the hands of those who might fuel conflict is ensuring effective Government control over diamond-producing areas and Liberia's borders, he says.

With regard to the forestry sector, the Government should be encouraged to hire an internationally recognized forestry management team temporarily to provide genuinely transparent and accountable oversight, he says.

Both the timber and diamond sectors need tighter security, he says. "The National Transitional Government lacks the capacity to provide such control and UNMIL lacks both the mandate and the troop levels necessary to perform such a role. The Security Council might therefore consider whether it wishes to broaden the mandate and increase the resources of UNMIL to enable it to assist the National Transitional Government in providing security in the diamond and timber-producing areas," he says.


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