UN ends mission

DAKAR – The United Nations closed its peacekeeping mission to Liberia on Thursday, 15 years after it was deployed in the aftermath of two civil wars that ended with the fall of then-president Charles Taylor.

The mission had already withdrawn most of its 15,000 troops in mid-2016, signalling that the poor West African nation can meet its own security needs. Some 2000 UN forces had remained in case of an emergency, but over time they have pulled out.

“This mission contributed to the restoration of peace and stability in Liberia,” President George Weah said in a joint address with visiting U.N. Deputy Secretary Amina Mohammed.

“We salute the men and women in blue helmets who came from far and near, some of whom paid the ultimate price for peace”.

Weah was sworn in to cheering crowds in January, a testimony to how far Liberia has come since its civil wars left almost 250,000 people dead and turned children into killers.

He replaced outgoing Africa’s first woman president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after a hotly contested but nonetheless peaceful election a month earlier.