The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Brownie Samukai Apologizes

Liberia's Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has publicly apologized for secret recording released here a month ago in which he had gossiped against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and other officials of government.

Speaking for the first time in Monrovia on the issue, which has generated huge public debate here, Minister Samukai said, "I sincerely apologize to my colleagues who felt embarrassed due to my statement."

Samukai was secretly recorded during a private discussion with former Roberts International Airport Managing Director, Ellen Cockrum.

Cockrum, an American air force pilot, has been indicted by the Liberian government for alleged corruption, and is facing extradition from the United States.

In early August, she unveiled a secretly-recorded tape on which Defense Minister Brownie Samukai is heard blasting President Johnson-Sirleaf for keeping corrupt ministers and corrupt people in government.

Addressing a news conference at the Ministry of Information Thursday, the Defense Minister said though, he blundered with those comments, but he was talking to a friend.

"I am a Liberian, who has always said what I wanted to say whether in private or public. I have tried to speak with Liberians looking to return openly and publicly," Samukai added.

He thanked President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for renewal confidence in him despite serious disappointment created as result of his comments, noting that everyone can make mistake, so he's not above the nature of human being to err.

According to him, the private discussion with the former RIA Boss though spoke volume, but he did not take bribe and settle contract under the table.

"We were talking of stealing the Liberian money. I was not talking 'Kato'; instead, I was only giving my personal opinion which is not fact of how go about it. I tell you this, some of the media friends were critical on me not that they hate me, but I disappoint them. They never thought that I could made mistake, but it happens," he maintained.

Providing information about a platoon of peacekeepers from the Armed Forces of Liberia on duty in Mail, Minister Samukai said September 5, 2013 marks 76 days of the soldiers on their mission with no report of incidence. He explained that the platoon from Liberia was incorporated on July 1, 2013 as part of a United Nations force under the Nigerian contingent.

Already, the soldiers have received three Toyota pickup trucks from PAE-Mali to enhance vehicular patrols; they are said to be conducting joint operations with Beninoise troops 50 kilometers near the Mauritanian and Djibouti borders.

Minister Samukai narrated that the United Nations is responsible for all troops in Mali, providing logistical support, including food to the AFL platoon, adding that the soldiers' morale remains high and are doing well from their operational base in Diabali, northern Mali.

Meanwhile, the Defense boss has disclosed that three platoon plus 165 troops are expected in couple of days to beef up the AFL's positions on the peacekeeping mission.

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