Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor is calling for the resignation of Defense Minister Brownie Samukai for reportedly declaring his support for Vice President Joseph N. Boakai’s presidential bid.
Senator Taylor said the Defense Minister statement on a local talk-show circumvents the Code of Conduct which prohibits political appointees from making political declaration for a political candidate or hopeful. Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, on a local radio station, publicly declared his support for Vice President Boakai. Minister Samukai reportedly said this is why he accompanied the Liberian Vice President on a political tour to Nimba where his (Samukai) mother hails from and called on the people of that region to support the Vice President come 2017. The Liberian Defense Minister allegedly used government vehicles assigned to the Ministry of National Defense to transport people during Vice President Boakai’s recent visit to Nimba. The Bong County strongwoman said the Defense Minister, as an individual under the code of conduct, has a political right to cast his vote for his political choice, but not to publically take the Vice President on a political fanfare and declare support for a political candidate. Senator Taylor observed that the Armed Forces of Liberia is an ultimate guarantee and based on the Defense Minister statement, he has factionalized the army; therefore the neutrality of the military has become questionable. The former First lady of Liberia also asserted that the Defense Minister’s statement has the potential to undermine the neutrality of the Armed Forces of Liberia. She noted that these are some of the vices that resulted to the decommissioning of the AFL with support from the international community. Senator Taylor noted that the Defense Minister utterance on the radio recently also has the propensity to divide the army and bring about total instability in the country and create disenchantment amongst the men and women in arms. She did not however say how this statement will affect the army considering the fact the Armed Forces of Liberia is a non-political group. At the same time, a local advocacy group, the Patriotic Consciousness Association (PACA) has added its voice to the call for Defense Minister Samukai to resign noting “the statement was divisive and violates the code of conduct and the national security law” which prohibit the presidential appointees from participating in political activities. PACA Executive Director Fredrick Baye urged the Defense Minister to resign peacefully or else his organization will ask the President of Liberia to discharge him from office. Appearing as guest on a local radio talk show last week, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai said he was declaring support to his uncle (Vice President Joseph Boakai) because they share the same political ideology. The Defense Minister admitted that he took the Vice President to Nimba on a political jamboree, and it was in no way a violation of the Code of conduct, but denied ever taking government vehicles to Nimba to transport people. Minister Samukai clarified that his declaration of support to Vice President Boakai has nothing to do with the AFL because in fact, he does not control the army.