30 January 2013

Liberia: No Allotment for AFL Deployment

Liberia's Finance Minister, Amara Konneh has disclosed to members of the Liberian Senate that there is no budgetary allotment in the 2012/13 national budget for Liberian troop's deployment in Mali for peacekeeping mission.

Speaking in plenary at the Senate Tuesday, Minister Konneh added that government will be constrained to take deep cut in various ministries, agencies of government and the Liberian Legislature budgetary allotment if the troops are to be taken care of.

He noted that deep cut in budgetary allotment will bring hard feelings among government officials and head of institutions but the initiatives will brighten the image of the country among other nations that are contributing troops to battle zone, Mali.

However, he explained the country is faced with serious budgetary constraints especially with the restoration of peace and protection of Liberian and Ivorian borders.

"As I stand here without any figure in my head or on paper to tell you that the government will spent this amount. All I can say is it will be cut in allotments in order for us as government to finance our troops," he said.

Also speaking at the public hearing, Defense Minister Brownie Samukia disclosed to members of the Senate that Liberian troops that are expected to go on peacekeeping mission in Mali will be embedded into the Nigerian Contingent.

Minister Samukai said that the essence of the joint operation is intended to safeguard the Liberian troops due to their lack of experience in peacekeeping operations.

It could be recall on January 25, 2013, the members of the Senate summoned three members of the cabinet - Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, and Justice Minister Christina Tah to appear before the upper House to provide detail information about the plan by the Commander-In-Chief of the army to send soldiers abroad on peace mission.

Minister Samukai pointed out that the Liberian Government is sending the Infantry Platoon (Units) for the operation; noting that the Unit is both United States and Nigerian trained and that they prepared all including tactical and combat engagement.

The Defense Boss informed the senators that currently the Armed Forces of Liberia AFL) enjoyed the strength of 1939 well trained militants with the deduction of 50 platoon for the peacekeeping operation for Mali; the country is still well capacitated military wise.

Providing further detail about the mission, Samukai disclosed that the Liberian Government will be responsible for its troops for 90 days (three months) for everything including logistics, medical, feeing and their wellbeing, adding that the mandate is that the wellbeing of the soldiers should be of international standards.

Following the completion of the 90 days sponsorship, the international partners including the United States, United Nations, African Union, European Union and ECOWAS will come with support based on the scoop of operation of the troops.

However, he clearly stated that there will not be any financial assistance to any country or the troops. He concluded that all soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia are insured and protected under the medical insurance benefits.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Christina Tah said the President did not make any commitment to ECOWAS in the absent of the concurrence from the Liberian Legislature.

She, however, said that the President used Article 85 of the Liberian Constitution which states: The President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, may order any portion of the Armed Forces into a state of combat readiness in defense of the Republic, before or after the declaration of a state of emergency, as may be warranted by the situation.

All military power or authority shall at all times, however, be held in subordination to the civil authority and the Constitution.

And article 57 of the Liberian Constitution which states: The President shall have the power to conduct the foreign affairs of the Republic and in that connection he is empowered to conclude treaties, conventions and similar international agreements with the concurrence of a majority of each House of the Legislature.

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