U.N. reconfiguring mission in Liberia

March 6, 2012 at 10:03 AM

MONROVIA, Liberia, March 6 (UPI) -- The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Liberia will seek to hand security responsibility to national forces as part of a gradual reconfiguration, an official said.

The U.N. Mission in Liberia is ensuring the sustainability of a 2003 cease-fire that ended a civil war in the country that left around 150,000 people dead.

Edmond Mulet, assistant U.N. secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told a multilateral panel that the UNMIL was considering a "very careful" hand over of security responsibility to Liberian forces.

"However, this does not mean that UNMIL is leaving Liberia," he said from Monrovia.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf secured a second term in office after fending off a strong challenge by former diplomat Winston Tubman last year.

The runoff was part of an election process meant to heal wounds leftover from the country's 14-year civil war. Violence marred the period between the two votes, however, as Tubman's camp complained of bias in the country's national election commission.

Sirleaf had called for support from the United Nations after winning the election.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor faces 11 war crimes charges at a tribunal in Sierra Leone for his rule in so-called blood diamonds. A judgment is expected by the end of April.

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