“Don’t Cross Democratic Redline” -AFL Assures Apolitical, Equal Protection -Showcases Success Stories
MONROVIA – As the nation gears towards the holding of what is being arguably described as the most important postwar presidential and legislative elections on October 10, 2023, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) which was listed in 2003 as a belligerent participant in the country’s prolonged civil war, but was later transformed into a “Force for Good” due to a vigorous security sector reform program, is now admonishing all political actors to remain civil and peaceful during the heated electoral process, assuring that the AFL will remain apolitical in ensuring that everyone is protected under the constitution of Liberia.
Making the impassioned plea during the country’s 66th Armed Forces Day Celebration at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) Barracks on United Nations Drive Saturday, February 11, 2023, Liberia’s Defense Minister, Retired Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, said irrespective of one’s political affiliation, it is expected that the political discourse and the entire process will remain civil and peaceful during the expectantly heated process.
“We encourage you to pursue your dreams of becoming whatever you want, but the sad reality is that, your dreams, ego and aspirations, will more often than not, fall short of the collective will of the electorates.
“Our passionate plea will be, don’t dare cross that Democratic Red-Line beyond the collective will of the people if your dreams fall short by perpetrating violence. You can rest assured, we will stand by the expressed will of the people in line with the constitution of Liberia,” Minister Ziankahn stated emphatically.
Commenting further on the achievements of the Armed Forces of Liberia under the aegis of commandership of President George Manneh Weah, Ziankahn heaped commendations on the country’s partners, especially the UN family for standing with Liberia in achieving this milestone.
“The Armed Forces wouldn’t have reached this far alone without the help of our international partners. To our International Partners, you are a pillar in our development drive. We are and will always be appreciative of your continuous support to the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia. Special thanks to the U.S Government, India, China, Egypt, Nigeria, and Ghana.
“On behalf of the Chief of Staff and the men and women in arms, I will like to express my highest level of gratitude to the Legislative branch, especially both houses’ committees on Defense, Security, Intelligence and veterans Affairs, for your oversight and guidance which continues to portray the AFL as a ‘Force for Good’. I also extend my deep appreciation to the families of these brave men and women. Your enormous sacrifices are immeasurable and serve as the foundation upon which our military has survived. Bravo!” Ziankahn furthered.
He said, consistent with the Government’s vision and intent to improve the living and working conditions of our men and women in arms, last year President Weah mandated and provided funding for the construction of additional housing units and five multi-purpose bathroom facilities within the Military Barracks.
“I am pleased to report that these projects are at 80 percent completion. When completed, these facilities will significantly mitigate the housing and sanitation needs of the AFL. Additionally, almost all assistant Ministers and directors within the Ministry of Defense as well as key commanders from the AFL are fully mobile, thank you sir,” Ziankahn said.
Commenting further, Defense Minister Ziankahn narrated how during the last Armed Forces Day celebration, President Weah directed the recruitment of additional 1,000 soldiers into the Liberian Armed Forces.
“I am pleased to report that the first batch of 176 recruits has completed both the Initial Entry Training and Advanced Individual Training from a pool of over 2,000 potential recruits. Furthermore, 24 officer Candidates and 10 professionals, mainly medical doctors are presently being given specialized training. This process is the sole initiative of a national venture which ranges from financing, recruitment, vetting and training respectively,” Minister Ziahkahn stated.
Regarding Liberian troops serving in Mali, Defense Minister Ziankahn expressed heartfelt appreciation to the Government of Liberia for the continuous support.
“Our troops in Mali continue to serve with distinction. It is worth noting that for the first time since we began our Peacekeeping Operations in Mali, the Government of Liberia has contributed and committed to supporting our troops through budgetary allocation.
“The gallant men and women are performing at the highest tactical and operational levels in that sisterly country. These achievements reveal the unmatched dedication, commitment, and professionalism of the AFL on the international front.
“In accordance with the AFL promotion policy, the Ministry of National Defense has collaborated with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to promote qualified officers and enlisted personnel of the AFL to their next higher ranks. The promotions of these personnel has been completed by the Armed Forces of Liberia. This has heightened the morale and esprit de corps of our men and women in the Armed Forces while implementing their constitutional mandate.
“It is my honor to report the full standardization of all schools operating under the Ministry of National Defense guidance. The Gray D. Allison High School at the BTC Barracks and the Linda Thomas Greenfield Junior High School at the EBK Military Barracks are benefitting from this process which has created a decent learning environment for our military personnel dependents. Accordingly, for the past three academic years, our 12th Graders from the Gray D. Allison High School have a 100% WASC Exam passing rate, and few of our students earned Division One.
“Being cognizant of the premium which you and our International partners place on gender mainstreaming within the security sector, we have established a Gender and Social Inclusion Department. To date, a gender policy has been produced, followed by awareness at every military installation across the Country,” Minister Ziahkahn stated.
“Finally, to the men and women in arms, as we honor you today, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you for your loyalty, dedication, sacrifice and patriotism in ensuring the safety of our nation and its people. Remain focused on the mission and demonstrate supreme gallantry and professionalism through affirming your loyalty and services to the State as your patriotic obligation and constitutional responsibility in defending and preserving our common patrimony. Continue to be the standard bearer of the security sector and Remain a Force for Good,” Ziahkahn said.
The auspicious occasion was attended by the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, George Manneh Weah; First Lady Clar Weah; Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor; Speaker Chambers and members of the 54th Legislature; Senate Pro-tempore Albert Chie and members of the Liberian Senate; Chief Justice Yuoh and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court; former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; the Chairmen on Defense from the Liberian Senate and House of Representatives; the Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corp; the Dean and members of the cabinet; as well as current and former government officials here present.
Major General Pablo Estrada, Commanding General 46th Military Police Michigan Guard, United States served as keynote speaker at the President Weah’s 6th AFL celebration which was graced by the CDS of Cote d’Ivoire, Lt/Gen. Doumbia; the Assistant CDS of Sierra Leone, Brigadier General Bangura, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff of Guinea, Col. Diakite; as well as heads of other Security Institutions; and heads of Religious and Civil Society Organizations.