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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
UN peacekeepers in Liberia
George Weah
George Weah, one of the contenders in Liberia's forthcoming presidential election, says that if elected, he would extend the UN's mandate in the country.

With 15,000 peacekeepers currently in the region at a cost of $750m a year; keeping order in Liberia is the most expensive mission of its kind.

The former international football player, who is standing for the Congress for Democratic Change wants a longer-term commitment from the UN, until at least 2010.

How successful has the UN's mission in Liberia been? What does the future hold for the country? Do you live in the region?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The UN should most definitely stay in Liberia despite who turns out to be President as they are there for the safety of the everyday Liberians. The elected President and his cabinet, friends, relatives will all be well and truly guarded. It is normally the everyday folks that suffer in time of chaos. So for the sake of peace and the hope of an established stability in the near future, I agree with Mr. Weah that the UN peacekeepers should remain in Liberia until there is assurance of stability.
MW, Beijing, China

It is highly necessary that UN extend its mission in Liberia, since Liberia needs peace and needs it now! Let the UN also note that overcoming the situation in Liberia is the creation of a spring board for peace in the entire sub-region.
Samuel, Ghana

I'm very happy to know that my country of birth is now gearing toward a normal like it used to be by having an election next month. To every Liberian that will be voting this election, I want you think of yourself as Liberians not just a member of a particular ethnic group because your decision will determine what Liberia will become in the future. Let us not be more concern about our ethnic background but rather see ourselves as the world sees us "Liberians", Remember "Together we stand, divided we fall" it is time for us to stand together as one people and not separate ourselves from each other like we did during our civil war. Thanks to the UN Peacekeepers and all other countries that are contributing their time and effort in making this election process a success.
Joe P. Borward, St. Paul, Minnesota

Speaking as one of the UN peacekeepers actually serving on the ground with the Irish battalion, I would be pessimistic about this country's future without an ongoing UN presence. I have seen too many instances of civil disorder that the local police were unable to control to think that a pullout would be anything except a disaster. A reduction in the size of UNMIL after the election would make sense, but they should stay until the country is ready to take over its own affairs, and to be honest, I think that day is a long way off.
Aodh, Camp Clara, Monrovia, Liberia

It's a good idea that the UN stay for sometime, but it's the Liberians people that have got to take the lead in maintaining the peace we have now. The U.N will not be with us forever.
Ayouba, Akron, U.S

The UN's Mission in Liberia has been extremely successful, given the alternative if they were not on Liberia. They have been able to prevent us (Liberians) from killing ourselves. However, our future will be very uncertain if do not come together and bury our differences. Liberians have to be a little more patriotic to their country.
Max Jones, Virginia, USA (Liberian)

Liberians should now realize that the reconstruction of the country wholly lies in their hands
Cisse, Geneva

I believe that the UN staying in Liberia will mostly serve the purpose of showing the international community's support for her peace process. However, Liberians should now realize that the reconstruction of the country wholly lies in their hands. I think this is evidenced by the lack of basic services in the country, almost two years after the arrival of the peace keepers in Liberia.
Cisse, Geneva, Switzerland

I believe that the Liberians must decide for themselves whether the peacekeepers should leave or not, they are mature people.
Ruston Nyema, Liberian in Tripoli, Libya

The UN's mission in Liberia has been very successful, most especially in recent months. It is very obvious that peace is finally knocking on the door of Liberia. I visited my country (Liberia) last year from the US and saw that the obstacles to peace were finally being cleared out through the relentless efforts of the international community.

Even though I don't live in the region I am of the strongest conviction that peace is finally on its way. I'll suggest that the international community design a strategy that will help to eradicate the rampant corruption in that war torn nation.
Arthur Livingstone, Oklahoma City, USA

I would also love to see the UN stay for the duration of the four years following the enthronement of the next president
Melvin, Liberian in Canada

Many will agree if I say that George Weah is not educationally qualified for presidency in Liberia, but ask yourselves, what truly qualifies a person for leadership? Is it a few sheets of paper furnished with high marks and splendid recommendations or a pure heart and the will to do what needs to be done? Mr Weah may be inexperienced at politics at the moment, but so were all the other so-called experienced politicians at one time, and he (Weah), like the rest of them, will gain the experience with time.

However, due to his lack of participation in the previous Liberian politics, he now becomes the perfect candidate - with no part played in the sardonic war and he has his own money, which is more than I can say for most of the other candidates who depend on the country's money.

I would also love to see the UN stay for the duration of the four years following the enthronement of the next president of Liberia to help maintain the stability within the country. Henceforth, whoever wins has my support as a loyal Liberian citizen - united we stand and in unity strong success is sure... put aside your differences and let us come home.
Melvin Mathies, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Liberian)

UN you are our only hope for survival now. Because of your sleepless nights, democracy is about to be restored in Liberia. Your failure to respond timely to the crisis in our homeland led to the total destruction of the entire region. Now you are proactive, we believe that one day our neighbours will shake hands with us. Please educate the young men of Liberia.
Boniface Nyemah Ogunti, Minnesota, USA

The UN mission has helps Liberia and beginning to see the dawn of a new Liberia. Without proper security any president elected will not deliver his goals and objectives for Liberia. UN should stay for at least two years with a minimum of 7,000 strong men including police forces. I believe the statement of Mr Weah is what peace loving people want will like to hear.
Charles Obieze, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The United Nations mission in Liberia is a blessing from God. This mission is one of the most successful thus far and we want to appeal to the UN to extend its mandate in Liberia until there is total stability. This country contains power thirsty warlords and politicians who because of the personal greed will not hesitate to once more put suffering on the innocent people of this our beloved country.
Edward Paye, Philadelphia, USA

As one of the sons of the soil, Liberia, and having experienced almost all of the wars in Liberia since 1989, I want to add my little voice to the call of George Opong Weah for the extension of UN mandate in Liberia after the elections in October 2005. ECOWAS did it in the past and hurriedly when they left it was like the war was just starting at the time. I really hope that the UN has already learned a lesson from what I am talking about. We want this war to finish and finish for good.
Max Saah, United Kingdom

Mr Weah is the right man for Liberia at this time around because our fathers have failed us. It is time for the young hands to take over.
Bill K Ghartey, Dubai, UAE

George W Bush was labelled as one but he proved them wrong long ago
Omisore Kunle, Lagos

It is ideal for UN peacekeepers to stay put therein for as long as the Liberian people want. I have no problem with that; but why do some people label Weah as a political novice who cannot lead his country? George W Bush was labelled as one but he proved them wrong long ago. Today he is the de facto world president. Weah has brought more honour to Liberia and indeed Africa than does any other Liberian, dead or alive.

He started as a ghetto boy, travelled far and wide in the land of democracy, and definitely understands democracy and the rule of law better than many African leaders (Nigeria inclusive) who are deaf and dumb to the language of democracy. He is a trust-worthy individual and will not be a thieving leader like many other African presidents. Liberians should address their basic needs and not allow expired politicians to hijack their future a la Nigerian way.
Omisore Kunle, Lagos, Nigeria

I do support this wonderful ideology from George Weah who is the president in waiting for our beloved country Liberia. This man is a hero to Africa. Not only being a hero, but he's a man with vision for every peace loving people on the west coast of Africa. I'm with the strong belief that he's going to win against these egotist politicians in Liberia. Go Weah, go player, come freedom for Africa.
D-flow Flomo, USA

I think that it is a great idea that the UN stay as long as they can. Liberia right now needs outside support for as much they can get it to bring some form of stability not only to the country but to the entire region. The UN mission has so far been a huge success to Liberia and its people. I am a Liberian that wants to personally thank all the women and men in arms that are putting their lives on the line for the people of Liberia.
E Kortie, USA

He has experience and is well-known throughout the world. He is a legend.
Prince S Bimba, Cork, Ireland

It is very important that an environment be created by the UN to allow the transparency that is needed in Liberia to take root. If that requires them to stay a little bit longer than that should be the formula to put in place.
Benjamin Sanvee, Virginia, USA

The future for Liberia is bright.
Omordion Osula, Boston
The UN mission in Liberia has, so far, been a tremendous success. Things are gradually taking good shape. Since Rome was not built in a day, it will take a while for things to be near perfect for a country that has just come out of civil war. The future for Liberia is bright. The economic policies in place will help to determine how well the country does. If the government can shun corruption and put the people first, Liberia will be a better place to be. Everyone should team up with the government in order for the country to move forward. Unity is strength and united we stand.
Omordion Osula, Boston, USA

The UN should stay in Liberia until the country is fully stabilised. There are warlords who are waiting for the vacuum that may be created if the UN moves out. Whoever wins the October elections will take time to establish a universally accepted military.
Simon Kibiego, Nairobi , Kenya

George Weah's call is one of the most sincere comments anyone who loves Liberia would make. Given that he is not a militant and has no rebel backing, his victory at the polls might plunge the country into another war unless he has a strong military backing. I pray that he wins and the UN heeds his appeal.
Fidelis Mbah, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Liberia has a great chance to show to the world that a failed state can be converted into a democratic and peaceful country. It is extremely important to keep the UN forces for a while since the whole region is extremely volatile. Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast are full of renegade fighters who are looking for the best chance to make trouble anywhere they can. It is fundamental to pressure Nigeria to give up Charles Taylor. He is still trying to manipulate the Liberian elections to pave the way for his return. He has been one of the worst assassins of the post-colonialist Africa. For Liberia and Africa's sakes he must be caught.
Maximiliano, San Jose, Costa Rica

The UN operation in Liberia is very expensive - three times that of the Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. However, the peace process in Liberia has still not advanced to a stage were it can to be entrusted to the Liberians themselves. I come from the region and it is my hope that the international community will do its utmost to ensure that violence does not erupt again. In such event, the effort invested in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast by the international community would have been in vain.
Anon, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Keeping the UN in Liberia will create social problems that will affect the country for generations to come
Mchineh, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Ideally, and Judging by the way things went after their early exit after the 1997 election, The UN peacekeepers should remain in Liberia for longer. But realistically, keeping them there will create social problems that will affect Liberia for generations to come. In my view, the UN should carry out an intense military restructuring program for about a year after elections and then leave. Liberia's military is at least able to provide security for its citizens.
Mchineh, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

I strongly support the UN staying in Liberia until a government with more stability has a handle on the countries endeavours. After what happened in Rwanda and what is happening in Darfur, the people of Africa deserve all the help the United Nations can afford to give them.
Alexandra Calvano, Philadelphia, USA

I don't live in Liberia but I understand the situation. People are dieing so the UN peacekeepers should remain in the country to control the situation from getting worse. George Weah is wise in his thoughts.
Niwahere Zano, Kabale, Uganda

I think that they should stay on for at least a year to establish stability, a professional police force and an army among other things. Liberia is just emerging from the ruins of war and there are still some people who can easily start chaos. Charles Taylor is an example. It
Serberstian Amuka, Nairobi, Kenya

I think UN troops should stay in Liberia for the next four years. Liberia is very much destroyed; people live in very poor conditions. All the ex-combatants are still present in the country and, moreover, are still respected. Liberia is a very rich country: diamonds, gold, rubber, timber. There are too many people interested in restarting the war as it is a good cover for highly profitable and very often illegal business. We need UN soldiers to stay in Liberia until the country is rebuilt.
Anon, Monrovia, Liberia

These 15,000 men can be sent to solve humanitarian problems elsewhere in the world
Moibah Nyengbeh, Guinea
If the people truly elect and support their president then it will not be necessary for UN peacekeepers to stay. The citizens of Liberia can give the same support to the elected president as the peacekeepers. The UN has many things to do around the globe so these 15,000 men can be sent to solve humanitarian problems elsewhere in the world. Fellow Liberians, let's unite to make our region a stable one
Moibah Nyengbeh, Kissidougou-Guinea

I would love for the UN to stay here for the next two or more years because things are not yet fine for this nation. There are still arms around. Just recently a huge stock of arms was found around the Elwa area. I worked as a registrar during the may 2005 registration period and my staff were harassed by ex-combatants. If their demands of reintegration, rehabilitation and resettlement are not addressed we may not have a peaceful election.
Sonhlay Gbaye, Monrovia, Liberia

Not only should the UN stay in Liberia for at least another 10 years, but donor countries should administer the fiscal affairs of the country. That is the only way that Liberia will remain peaceful and become transparent.
Les Cole, Union, New Jersey

Even though George Weah has no political experience, I agree with him that UN should stay for a while and allow peace to firmly take root. Their stay will encourage Liberians to return home. There are still fighters in and around Liberia who will pick up arms if their party or person does not win the election.
James, Accra-Ghana,(Liberian)

Liberia could easily return to war if the UN left now
Jenks, Monrovia
Peace and stability in Liberia largely depend on the presence of UN Peacekeepers. Liberia could easily return to war if they left now. In the absence of a standing national army and a more trained and equipped police force it is just too early to even start talking about their departure.
Jenks, Monrovia, Liberia

Peacekeepers should stay, but only if Mr Weah is willing to pay for the costs .We could use that money for HIV/Aids victims world wide instead of guaranteeing Mr Weah's political life with a $750 million a year UN Force
Mkumbu, Gaborone, Botswana

Of course the UN should stay in Liberia until the job is verifiably done. Anything else will make the previous 14 years civil war child's play. If the world should fail Liberia again, we will surely reap another Somalia with all its repercussions.
J Marfo, The Netherlands

As for me, I will always want the UN to be in Liberia. This is because the mentality of war and violence still exists amongst Liberians, especially those who took part in the war. The peacekeepers should stay in order to redirect the minds of former combatants and help the Liberian army and police.
Emmanuel S Nanon, Monrovia, Liberia

I've followed this story with interest, since Weah used to play for my club. I have no doubt his intentions are good, but I worry that his lack of experience will not help Liberia out of the hole it finds itself in. If he does get in, who will he employ to help run the country? How can he be sure he is surrounded by people with the same aims as him? Furthermore, given the passionate support he has built up in the last few months, if he doesn't get in will the country be plunged into anarchy by his angry supporters?
Anon, London


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