After 30 Oct. 2004: Prosecution Awaits Illegal
- Jacques Klein
At long last, the end of the first aspect of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) process of the Liberian Comprehensive Peace Accord, is expected to take effect 30 October of this year, although with a stern warning accompanying the news that anyone caught possessing illegal arms following said date would be prosecuted in accordance with the Liberian Law; writes R. Karpeh Reeves.
Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein, head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), during the mission’s weekly regular press briefing recently disclosed that with the 71,000 combatants disarmed so far, UNMIL is doubling up efforts aimed at meeting the timetable set. Following the closure of the disarmament phase of the DDRR exercise, Amb. Klein said, “By November, there will be a signing ceremony that the program was successful.”
“Don’t allow people to hold you back, take advantage, but the Liberian Law will come into force against anyone illegally possessing arms after this date.”
He attributed the enormous progress made so far in the peace process to the Liberian people, whom he said, “had it not been for the courage of Liberians, the process would not have been successful.”
Amb. Klein added that as a result of the progress made thus far in the disarmament component, draft laws for the forthcoming presidential and general elections are almost in the finishing stage, while 4,000 Liberian students will be hired for the election process.
Buttressing Amb. Klein’s stern warning to would-be unauthorized gun-totters after the set date, UNMIL’s head of DDRR section, Clive Jachnik said, “anyone found in possession of arms will face the Liberian Law.” He at the same time cautioned combatants not to protest. “Everyone will be served,” he told journalists. He said it is necessary that these combatants exercise restraints because the Liberian people have been patient, adding, “the patience of the Liberian people is tested and known.”
Meanwhile, the payment of the balance US$150 out of the US$300 has begun, with eight sites already identified. According to Mr. Jachnik, the payment of the US$150 is made only to those ex-combatants who have completed the first and second phases of the DDRR and are now ready for the Rehabilitation and Reintegration (RR) aspects. He said, no one will be served who fails to go to his or her area of reintegration and resettlement.
The Disarmament aspect of the DDRR began on 7 December 2003, but was recessed due to some hitches in the process. Since the restart of the process in April this year, there has been commendable progress.