Liberia, Guinea Military Strengthen Ties

The authorities of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and Guinea military on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, for the first time planned together a document for a joint military operation at their common borders to jointly patrol, counter-terrorism operations, train, share information, and handle illicit trafficking of small arms.

The joint military measures follow the signing of a joint communique between the two countries during President Gorge Weah's recent visit to Guinea where he met his counterpart, Professor Alpha Condé.

At the climaxing event of the two-day technical meeting in Monrovia, the army authorities representing the two countries said that the planned document has to go back to the politicians to get the approvals of the ministries of defense of Liberia and Guinea.

AFL Chief of Staff, General Prince C. Johnson, clarified that, while there is no imminent threat to Liberia or Guinea, the measures are being taken due to terrorist and religious extremist movement in West Africa.

"No, there is nothing like imminent threat to Liberia or Guinea, but looking at what is happening within the sub-region, one can see that terrorism has spread from the Sahara into Mali," Gen. Johnson said.

He added that nowadays, there is a problem in Mali, and also bombing has taken place in neighboring Ivory Coast, while Burkina Faso also faces problem.

Given these instances , Gen. Johnson noted, "we don't have to wait for these incidents to happen in Guinea or Liberia before we can take the required action.

He stressed the need for the two countries to cooperate, engage in joint border patrol to know how to counter any terror incident, in case there should be one.

Gen. Johnson said that a joint communique was signed between the two countries, which stated that due to increasing terrorist and religious extremist movements in West Africa, both ministries [of defense] from the two countries were instructed to seek the opportunities of cooperation.

In particular , Gen. Johnson cited military and security training and capacity building, sharing information and intelligence, border security, and handling illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons as just a sub-set of the communique between President Weah and President Conde.

Gen. Johnson further said that it was based on the meetings between the two heads of state that prompted the first technical meeting, which ended Tuesday, July 23 in Monrovia.

He said that the technical meeting paved the way for the discussions on the formality of how the two countries could start a joint operation at their common borders in which military from both sides can benefit from the training.

Guinean military director for operations and head of the military delegation of Liberia, Colonel Michel Angel Bangoura, described the relationship between the two countries as "excellent", and the partnership between the two countries' military forces as "very good."

Col. Bangoura said that Liberia and Guinea worked hand-in-hand during the days of the country's former President Ahmed Sekou Touré, recalling how all the African countries joined efforts to assist his country when a group of mercenaries came from Portugal to attack Guinea in 1970.

He recalled that there was a point in time that the relationship between Liberia and Guinea went bad, but it was restored shortly after a democratic process, which ushered in Prof. Alpha Conde as President. His then Liberian counterpart had a developmental vision for their countries to the extent that peace now prevails among the citizens of the two countries.

Carleen G. Boah (Cup reporter) contributed to this story.

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