6 September 2017

Liberia: AFL Boss Sends Caveat

As Liberians prepare for the October 10, 2017 Representatives and Presidential elections, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Daniel Ziankahn, is calling on soldiers of the AFL not to politicize the army stressing that the army is not a political institution.

He said as a professional military force, the army officers should ensure that they remain professional in the conduct of their activities as usual and not to engage in wearing campaign materials of any political party, be it the ruling party.

The AFL Chief of Staff said soldiers of the AFL are prohibited from involving into politics as well as barred from attending political rallies across the country.

"We have a Code of Conduct, not the Code of Conduct that is talked about around here. This Code of Conduct is for our soldiers. The Code prohibit soldiers from wearing political parties T-shirts. They should not be at rally or campaign activities. If you have a family member who is a politician, we are not saying you should separate yourself from your family, what we are saying is that our soldiers are not politicians and so they should not in any way wear any campaign materials whatsoever," he said.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information recently, Ziankahn said political party vehicles with campaign stickers will not be allowed entering any of the AFL bases across the country.

Additionally, he stressed that campaign flyers and posters are prohibited from being posted at any army instillation including barracks across the country.

Family members wearing any political party materials will be denied access to army barracks across the country, according to the AFL Chief of Staff.

On issue surrounding the involvement of the army into the conduct of a peaceful election, the Army Chief of Staff said the AFL will not play an active role during these elections but rather will, in collaboration with the Liberia National Police and other state security apparatus including the Liberia Immigration Service, provide security for the election.

"We are all aware that this election is critical but I just want to let you know that the AFL will be in the beak seat. Because the lead security for this election is the LNP. As soldiers we will be in the background to ensure that security is okay," Gen. Ziankahn indicated.

When asked as to whether or not the declaration of support by Defense Minister Brownie Samukai was in violation to the ethics of the army, Ziankahn said as Chief of Staff of the army, he speaks directly and is held accountable for the army and not civilian officials.

He said those having preconceived minds that the army is loyal to specific individuals and could soon declare support to a particular candidate should disabused their minds of such because soldiers are not politicians.

According to him, soldiers are people loyal to the state and not an individual on grounds that individual will come and go but the state will remain forever.

Aside from being Chief of Staff of the army, Ziankahn said he absolutely have no interest in any political party or individual, stressing that he remain committed to heading a professional army to ensure that Liberia is peaceful and stable.


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