Why Armed Forces Day Celebration Stalled


President Joseph Nyuma Boakai did not perform on Monday, February 12, 2024; the pageantry expected of him as head of state at one of Liberia’s established holidays- the Armed Forces Day which occasion was stalled as a result of well planned and executed protest. In advance, wives of men in arm- AFL personnel; echoed prior to programs marking the celebration of Armed Forces Day, their grievances of very strong opposition to former Chief of Staff Prince C. Johnson Jr., being nominated to the position of Defense Minister by President Boakai. While the Armed Forces Day ceremony was yet to come, the women made their presence felt at the Liberian Senate, the body responsible for confirmations of presidential nominees, that the then Minister-designate should not be confirmed because he ill-treated their husbands, some of whom when to Mali on peacekeeping mission on behalf of the Liberian Government. The crux of the claim remains that former Chief of Staff Johnson allegedly squandered money belonging to AFL soldiers whose estimated number is not really established. Though the aggrieved soldiers’ wives raised the red flag, the Senate seems not to take seriously; the consequences that would ensue following the confirmation of  Retired Major General Johnson as Defense Minister. Apparently infuriated by the Senate’s action, the disgruntled women  were poised to disrupt the Armed Forces Day celebration; they reportedly  rejected the swift intervention of President Boakai. The women then showcased their planned protest by setting road blocks at different key localities, including the premises of the Barclay Training Center in down town Monrovia, Duazon on the Robertsfield Highway, 15th Gate on Kakata Highway, amongst others. President Boakai had no other alternative but to stay home while dignitaries including those from the United States Embassy near Monrovia were constrained to exit the venue of the ceremony.  The House of Representatives on Monday convened an emergency leadership meeting aimed at having a collaborative working with the Executive Branch to address the concerns raised by the wives of the AFL personnel. At the same time, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia has urged the Liberian Government to treat the issue as a matter of urgency. Though the AFL personnel whose names are not mentioned have not been seen joining their wives in executing the protests that have come in a series to claim public attention, there are fears that when the claims are not investigated for prompt  and amicable solution, the likelihood of national security being undermined  remains a concern as well. The Monday episode is no doubt the foremost compelling challenge for President Boakai to water down in steering the affairs of state in less than one month since taking over on January 22, 2024 from former President Weah to lead Liberia for the next six years under the Unity Party-led administration. Boakai, Johnson, Senator Cyrus, protesters

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