28 May 2014

Liberia: 'Butt Naked' - AFL Widows Strip At Capitol to Demand Benefits

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Widows of former soldiers of the Liberian Army at the Capitol building.

Monrovia — Widows of dead and former soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia Tuesday stripped in front of the capitol building in demand of benefits owed them by the Liberian government.

The widows said their decision to go nude stems from the fact that they have in the past months assembled at the capitol in silent protest to seek redress from lawmakers on their late husbands' benefits due them by the government of Liberia but no lawmaker was willing to listen to them.

The issues of widows of former AFL Soldiers demanding benefits started as far back as the administration of the late Transitional government chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, immediately following the country's civil conflict.

During that time Chairman Bryant gave each of the women ten thousand Liberian dollars (L$ 10,000.00) and promised that their plight would be addressed after the taking over of a democratically elected government, which brought on board the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The widows after the inauguration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf engaged the government and promises were made but did not yield any result.

In 2010 President Sirleaf as part of her campaign strategy for a second term invited Widows to the Executive Mansion after they threatened to vote against her for failing to address their plight and gave them twenty thousand (US$ 20,000.00) and promised to finally address their plight if she was elected for a second term. In her words President Sirleaf said to the women," This money is for your Christmas you do me I do you and you'll know," said President Sirleaf then a candidate in the elections.

Madam Nancy Jallah in her late 50's is one of the over 25 widows who besieged the capitol building on Tuesday. In an interview she said they are tired of waiting and being ignored by officials of government and that going naked was their last option.

"We will stay here today we don't mind sleeping here since the President say if we take off our cloths she will join us; we are waiting for her to come and join us, we are tired with all these lies," she said.

"Our husbands scarified their lives for this country and this government doesn't want to honor their memories for doing what they did for this country. We have children to carter to."

After over an hour of protest that stalled the flow of traffic the women were later disbursed in a peaceful manner by officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) with supporting comments from senator Joyce Musu Freeman Sumo of Montserrado County.

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