Sen. Zargo urges
Days after a military junta dethroned President Alpha Conde's government in neighboring Guinea, Lofa County Senator and Senate Committee Chair on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs Steve Zargo says the necessary budgetary allotment should be made to enhance Liberia's military capacity in ways that will make soldiers spirited, energized and willing to work.
"So if you want to enjoy the blessing and the protection of the military, treat them good. Treat them like your children ... Let's give them what they deserve," Sen. Zargo said Wednesday morning, 8 September in Monrovia when he appeared on local broadcaster Prime FM's live talk show.
According to Zargo, some of the issues that the Guinean junta cited as factors prompting the uprising against President Alpha Conde are applicable here and therefore urged that Liberia and other countries in the sub-region should take note and learn a lesson from the situation in Guinea.
The junta's capture of President Conde on Sunday and seizure of power have sent chills across West Africa, with amplified calls for governments in the region to avoid tampering with their countries' constitutions, fight corruption, support national security and depoliticize law enforcement and the justice system, some of which are believed to have triggered Conde's fall.
Additionally, Zargo has spoken against the idea of trying to "find something for the military" at the eleventh hour and urged the need to "give to the military what they deserve," create the enabling environment, and go to the military barracks, see how soldiers are living and be able to renovate the barracks.
He noted that Liberia's military barracks including Camp Jackson and other barracks in Lofa and Nimba counties, for instance, are still not up to pre-war status, thereby calling for budgetary allotment to be made to enhance the capacity of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to boost soldiers' morale.
Talking specifically about Liberia, he explained that before the international partners left Liberia, there was this security sector reform that was established with a lot of consultations done, involving the United Nations peacekeeping mission and the Ministry of Justice here.
Based on the reform that was established, Sen. Zargo said by now Liberia's military should have a population of over 5,000 personnel based on the projection made at the time. He also said by now the military should have its own agriculture and engineering battalions to energize the military.
Moreover, he said there was a projection that by now the police here should have over 8,000 personnel, but that has not been done.
Meanwhile, Sen. Zargo has commended President George Manneh Weah for giving the marching order to the military here to go to the border between Liberia and Guinea to ensure that it is policed in ways and manner that will prevent any unhealthy cross border activities at this time.
In spite of condemnation from the international community and regional leaders, reports from Guinea say the coup leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has said a new unity government would be formed in weeks without being definite about the exact time.
Col. Doumbouya is said to have gone further to instruct former officials to turn over official vehicles to the military, and also ordering them not to leave the country, among others.