Liberia: House Holds Emergency Leadership Meeting Amid Army Wives’ Persistent Protests

Capitol Hill, Monrovia — In response to the ongoing and persistent protests by the wives of Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) personnel, the House of Representatives has convened an emergency leadership.

In a statement released following the meeting, the House expressed its commitment to collaborating with the Executive branch in seeking a resolution to the concerns raised by the wives of the soldiers.

Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, the House of Representatives, as the elected representatives of the people, is committed to fostering dialogue and finding effective solutions that address the concerns of all stakeholders involved.

The leadership of the House expressed recognition for the importance of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the sacrifices made by its members in safeguarding the nation’s security. Understanding the challenges faced by the AFL Wives, the House said it is dedicated to working in the best interest of all Liberians and ensuring that the issues at hand are resolved in a fair and just manner.

It further emphasized its commitment to upholding the principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability.

Recent protests by army wives and widows have been directed against the nomination and subsequent confirmation of former army chief of staff Major General (retired) Prince C. Johnson as Minister of Defense, resulting in his resignation. The protesters have accused Gen. Johnson of massive corruption within the army, alleging that it has led to their husbands being denied due benefits and incentives.

In a statement obtained by FrontPage Africa, General Johnson stated that his resignation is for the common good of the country and the institution he has served for the past 18 years. He refuted allegations of misusing funds, expressing his commitment to instilling discipline in the army.

Meanwhile, the Executive Mansion has announced that the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia has received and accepted Johnson’s letter of resignation, and will address the nation tonight.

According to the Executive Mansion, in his letter, the Minister of National Defense outlined his reasons for his action, noting that due to the current political and civil disturbances occasioned by the protests of women believed to be wives of service men, he has made the decision to resign and preserve the peace and security of the State.

The President expressed gratitude to Minister Johnson for his invaluable service to the country and described him as a patriot.

The release further stated that “the President has instructed the Army to ensure all those impeding the free movement of people and vehicles through actions that block major thoroughfares across the country to immediately remove themselves and allow the government to resolve their grievances.” The President will address the nation this evening, the release added.

Earlier, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement expressing awareness of the ongoing protests by AFL spouses and the resulting closure of major roads throughout greater Monrovia. While supporting the right to peaceful protest, the embassy emphasized that blockading roads and impeding the movement of citizens is disruptive and counterproductive. They called for all parties to come together for a peaceful resolution through dialogue.

Johnson’s resignation coincided with the Boakai administration’s decision to call off the annual Armed Forces Day celebration. The Proclamation of the day, in line with an Act of National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, designates 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 scaled-back observances 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. Over the past two days, the women have carried out protests, blocking major routes including the main route leading to the country’s only international airport.

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