The New Dawn (Monrovia)

29 January 2013

Liberia: Ellen Insists On Troops Deployment

Amidst heated controversies here between the Senate and members of the House of Representatives over President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's pronouncement to send Liberian soldiers to Mali without first informing the Legislators, the Liberian leader has reaffirmed that a Platoon of the AFL will be deployed to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

"Our government firmly supports ECOWAS' deployment of a standby force in Mali to ensure a return to democratic rule, and to protect the territorial integrity in the north," Ellen said Monday while delivering the state of the nation address to the 53rd Legislature on Capitol Hill.

Upon President Sirleaf's pronouncement last week, members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature held diverse views over the sending of a platoon of approximately 44 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia on peacekeeping mission to Mali.

In the wake of the heated disagreement between the Senate and members of the House of Representatives, Senate Pro Temp and Grand Bassa County Senior Senator Milton Findley argued that while Liberians maybe willing to provide military assistance to the peace initiative in Mali, it was also important for members of the Legislature to have an insight of the entire plan before the soldiers' departure from Liberia.

But a vast majority of the members of the lower house in session last Thursday overwhelmingly voted in support of the President's decision to deploy Liberian troops in Mali, while at least four opposed the decision endorsed by 32 representatives.

President Sirleaf reported a total of 1,909 soldiers in the AFL as its current strength as of 10th December 2012, saying in assuring peace, security and the rule of law, the AFL has been vetted and restructured into a modern professionally trained military.

The Liberian leader revealed that consultations and resource mobilization will commence to deploy the soldiers to AFISMA, as a beneficiary of decades of support from its ECOWAS neighbors.

"We believe that it is time for Liberia to give them back in whatever way we can to restore peace to our sisterly country," she said.

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