12 January 2018

Liberia: Inauguration May Turn Sour

Photo: The Analyst
Graduates of the Armed Forces of Liberia graduates.

Liberia's historic inauguration ceremony for new government could turn sour if threats coming from the Soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia worth believability.

Few hours after their wives set up blockades along the main highway leading to the Roberts International Airport (RIA), some soldiers took to the airwaves to threaten massive protest on the day President-elect George Weah will be inaugurated.

They threatened to come out on January 22, the day of the inauguration of the new government if money reportedly deducted by their executives is not settled.

AFL soldiers are aggrieved over alleged poor treatment authorities of the Defense Ministry are meting out against them.

Wives of the soldiers Tuesday came out in their numbers to demand money allegedly deducted from their husbands' incomes by some officials of the Ministry of National Defense for the past ten years without any accountability.

The Marshal junction, which is about a mile from the Edward Beyan Kesseley Barrack was blocked for over two hours, impeding regular flow of traffic for hours.

"They refused to give our husbands compulsory savings to us for the past 10 years they have been in power. They were to use that money to pay our husbands off, but refused to give it," Beatrice, one of the protesting wives of the soldiers explained.

"Our husbands can't get pay on time, no money, no food, no current, no water, when we talked then they threatened us; so, we just living like that in this barrack. We want the old people that leaving power to give us this money then the new President starts his own."

They claimed US$20.00 was deducted each month as "compulsory savings" for the past years from their husbands. Some of the women claimed their husbands complied with the deduction for the past eight, nine or 10 years.

"The General said they could not assure us that the money will be paid because it is not intended for sharing and that is why we are protesting," said one of the protesters.

"It has been 11 years now since they started subtracting this money from their salary and told us that after series of engagement that if our husbands are not dead they will not give us the money," added another protester only identified as Yassah.

However, calling on a local radio station midnight talkshows, some of the guys who claimed to be affected by the ministry's action vowed to continue such protest if nothing was done to address their concerns before the inauguration.

One of the callers who said he was calling from the Edward Beyan Kesselle military barrack said if the concerns are not looked into, actions by their wives would pave the way for the main protest on inauguration day.

Also, self-claimed Moses Collins revealed that if the rigmaroles that marred the election period had turned negative, Liberians and foreign nationals who have taken arms to defend themselves because they (AFL) soldiers wouldn't have come out due to maltreatment from their leadership.

Calling on Truth FM "What Your View' program, Collins said they have planned to come out of the barrack on January 22, 2018 to ensure their money is paid.

According to him, the living conditions in the barrack are "discouraging, pitiful and dilapidated".

"We need this government, by the special grace of God, to help improve the lives of soldiers and their families - we are dying slowly, we're in complete darkness, dungeon."

The callers also claimed the government is not providing electricity and water and does not pay their salaries on time, stressing that school fees for elementary students at the barrack's school is about LD$15,000.

Meanwhile, Liberians who also called on the program lambasted the officials of the ministry and the Liberian Government for what they call 'cruel attitude' towards those men and women who have been suffering for the country.

The women said the high-ranking officers of the arm forces have said that the money was used to cater to soldiers who died while serving in Mali on United Nations Peace keeping mission.

In 2008, Liberia's Ministry of National Defense set a goal of having 2,000 trained soldiers by 2010. The AFL exceeded that goal in June 2009 by nearly 200 soldiers. The total strength of the Armed Forces was 2,133 service members in 2010.

According to the report, based on this number, Minister Samuka reportedly compelled every army personnel to pay an amount of $20.00 monthly. This amount is said have been deducted from their payrolls on a monthly basis.

They quoted Minister Samuka as saying the money is being kept by the Ministry in order to provide services to the army personnel if they fall sick or in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

At the same time, they are recommending that the CDC-led government must conduct an immediate audit at the Ministry of Defense and that Minister Samuka must give full account on how this amount that has accumulated to ($4,095,360US) has been used.

When contacted for his reaction on the protest, the Chief of Staff of the AFL told reporters he could not speak on the matter, but promised to get back to the aggrieved women on Thursday this week.


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