Liberia: Engagements and Dialogues Key to Addressing Security Challenges Ahead of 2017 General Elections

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Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attends an Arab and African leaders summit meeting in Kuwait city on November 19, 2013. The summit aims at reviewing steps to promote economic ties between wealthy Gulf states and investment-thirsty Africa. AFP PHOTO/YASSER AL-ZAYYAT (Photo credit should read YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

 

By: Arthur R.M. Becker- Contributing Writer (Liberia)

The Executive Director of the Centre for Security Studies and Development foresees that there are more challenges in maintaining the security of the state ahead of the 2017 general and Presidential elections in Liberia; but yet dialogues and engagements are key. Richelieu Marcel Allison, who is   a Rotary International Fellow and graduate of Bradford University in the UK with degree in Peace Studies and International development made these assertions recently in an interview with the African Leadership Magazine in Monrovia, Liberia.

Liberia’s security sector reform process, in his mind focused primarily on restructuring the security forces with diverse geographical representation and infusing the operational dynamics and confidence that was lost after the 14 year civil conflict. Now that the reform has been done to a large extent, the government needs to take further steps towards security sector governance which takes into account accountability, inclusiveness, and active participation in decision making he believes.

According to Richelieu Marcel Allison, the focus in terms of sustainability of the gains made towards peace consolidation and democracy can only be achieved, when the security sector reform takes a closer look at increased engagements and dialogues with local people and communities, including commercial motorcyclists which he sees as a major source of conflict in Liberia and the sub-region. When confidence is built through dialogues amongst the youth who form a vast majority of the population, including commercial motorcyclists, women, traditional leaders, policy makers, political parties, security forces, etc., democratic transition will thrive unhindered.

The Executive Director of CENSSAD said, while it is true that the government of Liberia has made tremendous gains to have trained security forces, they also have a responsibility to ensure that the people they protect have confidence in them by the ethical and professional service they provide and posture they display to people and country. He furthered that security sector governance is essential as this time in Liberia especially towards elections, because it portrays transparency and accountability as well as confidence and the overall participation of all in decision making that promotes sustainable peace.

Mr. Allison further informed the African Leadership Magazine, that the Centre For Security Studies and Development (CENSSAD), has already begun holding series of Peace and security sector governance dialogues across border areas between Liberia and Sierra Leone, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, and Liberia and Ivory Coast, and within Liberia with the full involvement of youth groups, commercial motorcyclists, traditional leaders, political parties, women groups, security forces, etc. The intent of the dialogues, according to Mr. Allison is to infuse a collective spirit of mutual exchange between stakeholder’s and build confidence which will enhance partnership for the promotion of sustainable peace towards the 2017 elections in Liberia. He said, the Centre for Security Studies and Development (CENSSAD) sees commercial motorcyclists as a key segment that has the potential of undermining the peace before, during, and after the elections. Therefore, Mr. Allison says in the months to come there will be series of engagement dialogues organized  to get to understand what the the issues are that confront these motorcyclists and find ways to get them to support the peace and security of Liberia with their full involvement and participation before, during and after the elections in 2017.

Mr. Allison asserts that since the early 1940s, this would be the second time in Liberia’s democratic history, a sitting government will be transitioning, and something he speaks of as been a great achievement in Liberia’s democratic history. Therefore, he believes that all Liberians need to preserve the gains made in promoting and sustaining peace thus far.

Richelieu Marcel Allison ended by pledging the Centre for Security Studies and Development (CENSSAD) commitment to the continuous agenda of promoting security sector governance and development in Liberia and the sub-region. Allison furthered that his institution will be at the center stage to ensure that 2017 democratic transition in Liberia is placed on a smooth trajectory.