21 June 2013

Liberia: Ready & Capable Upbeat Generalissimo Sirleaf Calls It 'A Payback Time'

When the pages of history are written, Liberia will undoubtedly be recorded as one of the nations that participated in the "restore democracy" to Mali mission led by the United Nations and the African Union.

About 46 officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia bearing the flag of Liberia are now on the grounds of Mali as part of international efforts to make Mali whole again. It is a difficult mission, but their generalissimo called on them to make Liberia and Liberians great and proud.

The commander of the AFL Mali mission team said they are ready and capable for the task assigned them. The international community has since put its backing behind the government and people of Mali in restoring the country to full-blown democracy by engaging elements of evil who overran the parts of the country, taking advantage of an ill-planned coup that toppled the government of former President Ahmadou Toumani Toure, himself, a former army general.

Prior to the March 22, 2012 overthrow of the President Toure-led government, the West African nation often cited as a democratic model declared

Restoring the country back to democracy also means reclaiming or retaking cities and towns then captured by the rebels who have been the clamoring for autonomy several decades ago.

Tuareg rebels came close to achieving their long-held dream when they captured strategic cities including Timbuktu at the time the Malian army was experiencing serious fracture necessitated by alleged lack of support from central government.

But the Capt. Amadou Songo-led coup short-lived due to the intervention of the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who suspended Mali and even pressured the coup leaders to turn power to a civilian administration.

France, former colonial power of Mali, wasted no time in intervening militarily. President Francois Holande deployed French combat troops who fought the rebels, dislodged and recaptured towns lost by the Malian army to the rebels.

ECOWAS and AU also buttressed France's efforts by agreeing to send troops to the West African nation under the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISM).

Upon her return from the talks that gave birth to the deployment of troops to Mali, President Sirleaf committed Liberia to the Mission in recognition of the assistance Mali and other nations Liberia during its war days.

The move was resisted but was not defeated as the National Legislature approved the decision.

Howbeit, after several months of pre-deployment training, selected officers of the AFL, departed the country yesterday under the watchful eyes of its generalissimo, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and relevant government agencies to join other troops of nations part of AFISM.

The Malian operation is backed by United Nations Resolution Number 2085.

The platoon-size AFL officers were airlifted by the United States Government as part of the agreement reached sometimes ago on board C-17 U.S. Military Aircraft with equipment and transport assets include M1017 trucks, Ford Rangers, Rice among others.

The government through the Ministry of National Defense has accepted to place he platoon under the command of Lieutenant Nathaniel S. Waka.

The Mali mission is Liberia first participation in international peace efforts since the end of its war few years ago.

The AFL's Infantry Platoon will be deployed under the 333rd Nigerian Battalion, the government said.

In her statement before the departure of the soldiers, President Sirleaf reminded the soldiers of their duties, saying that Liberia was paying back.

Describing the mission "payback time," the Liberian leader recalled "when Liberia was engulfed in the bitterness of conflict from 1989 up to 2003, it was Africa, especially West African solidarity that brought lasting peace."

She said Mali backed by the United States of America and other members of the international community was part of the initiative that brought peace to Liberia.

"It is time for Liberia to pay back those African countries that contributed their troops during to Liberia war years and brought lasting peace to our country," President Sirleaf said.

She challenged the young AFL soldiers to make Liberia and Liberians great and be dutiful, committed to the call of duty so that the morale of the country's army is restored and respected internationally in peacekeeping duty.

It may be recalled that in 2012, Major Emmanuel Sneh Savice served as Liberia first post war representative to the United Nations Observer Mission in Syria and in 1962, Liberia participated in a peacekeeping mission in Congo at which time the government contributed five contingents of soldiers which were attached to the Nigerian Brigade.

The AFL's participation in the AFISMA operations demonstrates to the rest of the world that Liberia in partnership with other ally nations has a contributory role to play in the promotion of regional and global security, observers noted.

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