At that meeting, Senator Armah Jallah called on government to provide compensation to both former members of the AFL and their “widows” in the amount of US$2 million and more.
Senator Jallah’s meeting the ex-AFL leadership comes hot on the heels of a recent protest demonstration in the Sinkor area by AFL “widows”.
The comments from Senator Jallah have elicited sharp reactions from many quarters. A former DDRR expert, Dr. Moses Jarbo believes strongly that Senator Jallah’s assertions have the propensity to create chaos, especially against the background of UNMIL’s drawdown and the aura of insecurity pervading the country.
“As we move closer to the 2017, people would want to score political points at the detriment of the country. We all need to focus our energies and resources on solidifying the gains made over the years instead of making statements that could incite another round of chaos,” Dr. Jarbo stated emphatically.
President Sirleaf has also condemned the Senate Pro-Tempore’s statement, terming it “incomprehensible and intolerable”. In an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf recounted specific sums of monies both in local and foreign currencies expended towards the AFL restructuring process, majority of which were direct payments to ex-AFL personnel and their “widows.
For us at the Capitol Times, we will stand firm to defend the Senate Pro-Tempore’s right to free speech. Senator Armah is a free-born citizen of this soil, as such, he must enjoy all rights and privileges appertaining thereof. What we don’t countenance, however, is the licentious use of free speech to spur injurious scenarios.
Senator Jallah is no stranger to the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord, we believe. The CPA had many pillars of implementation, but cardinal among all were the following: the establishment of the transitional government; the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of fighters; and the holding of free and fair democratic elections. The security sector reform- which encompasses the AFL restructuring process- is an offshoot of the three aforementioned processes.
What we sincerely believe Senator Jallah should be focusing on at this time is how he and his colleagues in government will make use of the meager resources available to run this government smoothly. As the rainy season approaches, how will government manage to fix the many potholes around the city? Will civil servants take pay on time? Will the budget shortfall mean cancellation of the July 26 celebrations this year?
Giving US$2 million to ex-AFL personnel and their widows is not the cup of tea of the Liberian people at these trying times. If the Senator really means business, he should convince his colleagues in the Senate to pool their salaries and give them to the ex-AFL leadership.