Liberia: Defense Minister Warns of 'New' Security Threats From Neighbors

Monrovia — Defense Minister Rtd. Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, has assured Liberians that statements coming from some politicians are mere posturing that does not represent any major security threat to the country.

"I think people are making mole hills appear like mountains," Minister Ziankahn said when quizzed on the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) Show on the state-run radio Friday regarding statements emanating from politicians in Liberia.

According to Minister Ziankahn, he doesn't see the coming December 8 Senatorial Election as the biggest test to the democracy of Liberia as perceived by others, stating that the biggest test was the 2017 General and Presidential Elections.

Not mentioning any politician by name, Maj./Gen. Ziankahn pointed out: "I really don't like to delve into political issues except when it touches the veins of national security. And to be quite sincere with you, that was wrong for him (politician) to have made such a statement."

However, the former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, condemned statements coming from Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, relative to stoning the convoy of the President of Liberia on allegations of numerous attacks on him and his supporters during their political tours in the county.

"George Weah's convoy? We will stone it. Ehn they say they get guns? When they shoot guns, they will not know where guns will come from to respond.

"I am going to give this marching order: all members of CPP (Collaborating Political Parties) who believe in our judgment, going forward, we will carry rocks with us anywhere we going.

"We will carry the weapons that we have to protect ourselves anywhere we are going. One rock thrown at me going forward, rocks will be thrown at George Weah's convoy.

"If he's scare to leave his house, we will throw stones at his house. Darius Dillon says so... George Weah thinks he get guns? Watch and see.

"I will be seen throwing it (stones) so that it will motivate my people to do it. I am the General here." Dillon said, raising security concerns among Liberians at home and abroad as well as foreign residents.

Minister Ziankahn stated that it is in the best interest of the Senator to retract his statement of violence against the President of the Republic of Liberia on grounds that the President of Liberia is the Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

The Minister of Defense stressed that it is the obligation and responsibility of the AFL to protect every citizen, most especially the Commander-in-Chief of the national army, who is the President of Liberia.

"You take it or leave it, the President is the Commander -in- Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia and we have the obligation to protect every citizen, most especially the Commander-in- Chief. So I think it was wrong to have made such a statement and I hope that he meant what he said with respect to his apology," Minister Ziankahn emphasized.

Meanwhile, Minister Ziankahn disclosed that the major security threat that every Liberian should be concerned about is the issue of political instability in neighboring countries (Guinea and Ivory Coast) that has the propensity to spillover into Liberia.

He observed that he is seeing some signs in neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast that plunged Liberia into 14 years of civil crisis.

"Guinea and Ivory Coast are on the verge of real civil crisis. Just last year, about 50 individuals were killed during protest right in Ivory Coast and Guinea; you don't want to know the count," the Liberian Defense Minister lamented.

He asserted that the most worrisome aspect of the situation with Guinea and Ivory Coast is that both countries are going to Presidential elections this year, citing:: "So we can't be here just for Senatorial election and want to tear our country down because you want to run."

Ziankahn cautioned political actors against any act that will derail the hard-earned peace of Liberia, stressing that the AFL will be left with no alternative but to act whenever the peace of the country is threatened by any individual, irrespective of their position and affiliation.

"You can do whatever you like to do. Like I said, I don't like to delve into political issues but anytime it borders on national security, I will have to come and act at some point.

"We don't really care about your political party; who you know or who you are, but anytime you want to threaten the peace of this country, irrespective of your affiliation, we will act," the Defense Ministry boss emphasized.

In an opinion piece written by Minister Ziankahn, he warned against electoral violence ahead of the December 8 Senatorial Election, noting: "Our country has gone through a lot. A big chunk of the population is still licking their wounds and do not want to go through the same again.

"We as security actors will not sit idly for our national security to be threatened and allow our country to go down the drain once more. Therefore, we will act decisively, and accordingly, irrespective of your position and affiliation."

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