Among the various speakers that made speeches at this year’s celebration of Armed Forces Day, Liberia’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Ambassador, Marjon Kamara, struck a salient chord when she cautioned the military about their civic duties.
“The military has a part to play in inspiring confidence, and the best way to do this is to enhance its community-based approaches and instill an organizational philosophy of public service and sensitivity to civil society,” she said.
Ambassador Kamara also called on the government to craft a comprehensive communication strategy that will distill fear in the citizenry that the country cannot take care of its own security upon UNMIL drawdown.
“We must make our people understand, even if it means communicating in local dialects, that there will remain a reduced UNMIL presence of military personnel and civilian police beyond June 30 and that security responsibilities once performed by UNMIL will now be solely in the hands of state security,” Ambassador Kamara noted.
In full concurrence with the Foreign Minister, we want to go a step further to send a serious caveat to the new army, that it is commissioned to serve the country, and not an individual or a select group of people.
The governance missteps of our founding fathers made Liberians to fear and hate the army when it was founded in 1908 as the Liberia Frontier Force, to protect the interests of the Monrovia-based settler government, while lording and terrorizing the hinterland citizens. Some historians will tell us that Liberia’s governance and political troubles are deeply rooted in how the settler class used the army to subdue the natives, especially on the issue on taxation without representation.
The negative image borne by the army by dint of this gross governance miscarriage dovetailed into the 1980 coup d’état, and later into the 1990 civil war. Throughout those crises, the AFL image was seriously battered.
As we join the new army to celebrate another milestone in its history, we expect nothing less than professionalism, dedication to country, and respect for rule of law from the gallant men and women of the new Armed Forces of Liberia.
Finally, we applaud Mr. Brownie Samukai and the Army Chief of Staff for taking the bold decision to weed the new army of miscreants whose presence would have contaminated the few good apples.
Bravo AFL on your day.