In the wake of criticisms against a recent statement by Senator Armah Z. Jallah that the Liberian Government violated the Accra Comprehensive peace accord by restructuring the Liberian army, former personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have threatened to disrupt normal security if the Government fails to give their benefits within 72-hours.
Officials of the former servicemen who assembled at their usual meeting venue in Monrovia said for too long they have exercised restraint for peace sake, but their silence has ignited a laissezfaire attitude in the Government. They claimed that the government of Liberia is ignoring their plights. Speaking to reporters Monday, February 22, 2016, the spokesperson of the group Lt. Jerry Swen said the exAFL soldiers do not intend to create civil unrest in the country, but the consistent pronouncement from the Government of Liberia (GOL) that all benefits due the former AFL personnel have been settled including the widows is unfair. Recently, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai disclosed that the Government of Liberia does not owe the disbanded army including the AFL widows, and any attempt by them to disrupt the peaceful movement of people and create chaos, they will be arrested and dealt with according to law. In his statement, Lt. Swen defied the Defense Minister to exhibit any document indicating that the Liberian Government has settled the benefits of all the disbanded AFL, including the widows. He said while it is true that the Government made some efforts to settle arrears and benefits to the former servicemen, there was understanding between the government of Liberia, represented by the Ministry of Defense and the ex-AFL that those that did not get their benefits would receive in subsequent time. Lt. Swen, in a very angry mood, asserted that although there was no time frame attached to the payment, they decided to wait for the Government to find the right time to pay them. The spokesman of the group noted that since the Defense Ministry has remained adamant and continued to give false impression to the President that all arrears and benefits due the ex- AFL soldiers and widows have been cleared, they will use another posture to remind the President. He said if the Government does not listen to their demand, they AFL will take to the streets in the shortest possible time in demand of benefits and arrears owed them. The former AFL also commended the President of Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate Armah Jallah for his position statement on the restructuring army, and said the exercise was done with malice and prejudice by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led administration. Lt. Swen recalled that 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord called for restructuring of the AFL, and not dissolution which was subsequently followed by recruitments of new individuals to join the Liberian Army which he claims violates the peace accord. He stressed that Senator Jallah’s statement was in the right direction and admonished other meaningful and patriotic Liberians to speak against what he described as “precarious decision”. He stated that the decision to “dissolve” the army has the propensity to undermine peace and democracy in the country. Last week Wednesday, Senator Jallah condemned the restructuring process when he met with the leadership of the ex-AFL at his Capitol building office in Monrovia. The Government of Liberia said it has paid over US$14 million dollars to over 13,000 ex-AFL personnel as severance benefits, while another L$96,000.000 paid to additional 10, 800 enlisted personnel as salary arrears from previous Government