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Drawdown of forces in Liberia will not endanger peace, UN envoy pledges

Drawdown of forces in Liberia will not endanger peace, UN envoy pledges

SRSG Doss congratulates officer at medal ceremony
The top United Nations official in Liberia has again reassured the once war-shattered West African nation that the world body will not jeopardize the country’s hard-won stability with its planned reduction of peacekeeping forces.

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will not “put at risk the peace we have all worked so hard to achieve,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Alan Doss said yesterday at a medal parade for outgoing Namibian peacekeepers in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, about 100 kilometres from Monrovia, the capital, and close to the western border with Sierra Leone.

“Let me take this opportunity to reassure the people of Grand Cape Mount County and beyond that the adjustments to UN forces foreseen for the months ahead will be carefully planned and monitored,” he added.

It was Mr. Doss’ latest reassurance over the planned reduction of UN peacekeepers, who have overseen the country’s transition to democracy after 14 years of civil war. Last week he briefed civil society leaders on the drawdown, which will take place in multiple stages from the current level of 15,200 to 9,750 by the end of 2010.

He said then that it would be based on regular security assessments and measurable benchmarks, one of which is the creation of a 500-person Liberian quick reaction force in the country's National Police, set to be established by July 2009.