UNMIL Force Commander Gives Position

By: Melissa Chea-Annan


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 12, 2004

The UNMIL Force Commander Lt/Gen. Daniel I. Opande says he is not interested in the leadership crisis in LURD, except to ensure that it does not create any problem for the improved security situation in the country.

Addressing the press yesterday at the UNMIL Headquarters in Congo Town, Gen. Opande indicated that as a peacekeeper, his responsibility is to deal with everybody, whether that person is a leader or not.

The UNMIL force commander was responding to a question posed to him, about his presence around Justice Minister Kabineh Ja’neh who is presently claiming leadership of LURD, and the crisis within this former rebel group.

According to him, if any leader of the organization invites him with the intention of collecting arms from ex-combatants, whether in the bush or in the city, he will definitely go along with that person, "Kabineh Ja’neh is a Minister and as force commander, I can not refuse his invitation", he reiterated.

Force Commander Opande also disclosed that the last battalion of UNMIL troops from Ethiopia has arrived in the country and they will be deployed in the shortest possible time in Grandcess, Rivercess and Grand Kru counties, among others.

He further said though the disarmament and demobilization process is supposed to end in September, "as we move into the hinterland, we are faced with problems, such as accessibility of the countryside due to the weather, and the deplorable condition of the roads".

He said as a result of these problems, there will be a delay in the deployment, and the construction of the cantonment sites. But he stated that the deadline will be extended to a later date instead of September, and that they will do everything possible to keep moving on.

Still speaking, the UNMIL force commander disclosed that they have retrieved some of the heavy arms that were used by the ex-combatants during the Liberian crisis. Although he did not give the exact figure, he explained that these were the weapons the ex-combatants claimed they were having in their possession.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.