Liberia: Defense Minister Steps Down Amid Rising Army Tension, Protests

Monrovia — President Joseph Boakai’s decision to alter the setup of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Ministry of National Defense has reportedly been dealt a setback with the resignation of the recently confirmed Minister of National Defense Prince Charles Johnson, FrontPageAfrica has learned.

Johnson’s resignation come just days after wives of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia staged road blockades and protests in the capital Monrovia and various parts of the country.

Johnson, in a statement viewed by FrontPageAfrica says he is stepping down for the common good of the country and the institution he has served for the past 18 years. He wants to make sure discipline is instilled in the army and any allegation of him misusing funds is totally false.

Earlier, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement that it was aware of ongoing protests by AFL spouses and the forced closure of major roads throughout greater Monrovia. “While the U.S. Embassy supports the right to peaceful protest, blockading roads and impeding the movement of Liberian citizens is disruptive and counterproductive. This is contrary to the respect of democracy and rule of law. We call on all parties to come together for a peaceful resolution and dialogue.”

Johnson’s resignation comes as the Boakai administration was forced to call off the annual Armed Forces Day celebration. The Proclamation of the day is in consonance with an Act of National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, declaring the 11th day of February of each year as Armed Forces Day to be observed as a National Holiday.

On the eve of the day, President Joseph Boakai, issued a directive for a scaled-back observance. The President’s call for reduced activities comes amidst ongoing protests from the wives and widows of Armed Forces personnel. They have urged President Boakai to reconsider his nomination of the former Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (Retired) Prince C. Johnson III as Minister of Defense. For the past two days, the women have carried out protests, blocking the main route leading to the country’s only international airport and other major routes.

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