State Closes Border With Ivory Coast
The Liberian government, in response to recent renewed cross-border attacks, has announced the immediate closure of its border with the Ivory Coast as part of series of measures aimed at tackling the problem.
In a joint press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Defense Minister Brownell J. Samukai and Information Minister Lewis G. Brown also announced several other measures the Liberian government has taken to ensure that tension along its border with its neighbor is eased.
The Liberian ministers also announced the immediate deployment of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the reinforcement of police and immigration personnel along the Liberian-Ivorian border, the immediate suspension of alluvium gold and other minerals mining along the border and the relocation of refugee camps along the border.
Information Minister Brown, who made the pronouncements, also announced as additional measures taken by the Government the extradition of Ivorian mercenaries being held in detention in Liberia, the continuous surveillances of the refugee camps and prosecuting any refugee abusing his or her refugee status.
The decisions were reached following hours of meeting of the National Security Council where President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf provided the instructions via telephone conversation from the United States.
The ministers' press conference was in immediate response to reports of fresh cross-border attacks Friday in the Ivorian town of Tie.
Seven Nigerien soldiers serving the United Nations Operations in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) were reported killed by mercenaries suspected of coming from the Liberian side of the border, though the Liberian ministers said they could not establish the identities of the mercenaries.
The ministers further announced that the border will remain closed until otherwise other, but added that it would only be opened to humanitarian traffic.
The Government, through the ministers, also used the occasion to condemn the attack, describing it as baseless, unwarranted, inhumane and receives no support from the Liberian Government.
Foreign Minister Ngafuan, who too had just completed an emergency meeting with the Ivorian Ambassador few minutes to the press conference, was quick to clarify that the incidents happened in spite of both countries' efforts to restore calm to the border.
The Foreign Minister reminded the media of the Government's recent turning over of keys to confiscated vehicles to its Ivorian counterparts as part of promises made when both countries held bilateral talks over the cross-border incident.
The Liberian officials offered deepest condolences to the bereaved families of the victims involved in the recent attacks.