Liberia: President Boakai to Address Nation After Accepting Resignation of Defense Minister

Defense Minister Prince Johnson is out.

Monrovia – President Joseph Boakai has accepted with immediate effect the resignation of the recently confirmed Minister of National Defense, Prince C. Johnson.

In a statement issued in Monrovia Monday, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, said he has received and accepted a letter of resignation from Johnson.

In his letter, the Minister of National Defense outlined his reasons for his action, noting that due to the current political and civil disturbances occasioned  by the protest of women believed to be wives of servicemen, he has made the decision to resign and preserve the peace and security of the state.

The President expressed gratitude to Minister Johnson for his invaluable service to the country and described him as a patriot.

Over the course of the past two days, wives of army officers carried out protests, blocking the main route leading to the country’s only international airport and other major routes.

The President has also instructed the army to ensure all those impeding the free movement  of people and vehicles through actions that block major thoroughfares  across the country to immediately remove themselves and allow the government to resolve their grievances. President Boakai will address the nation this evening, according to a statement from the Executive Mansion.

In his letter, the Minister of National Defense outlined his reasons for his action, noting that due to the current political and civil disturbances occasioned  by the protest of women believed to be wives of servicemen, he has made the decision to resign and preserve the peace and security of the state.

Over the course of the past two days, wives of army officers carried out protests, blocking the main route leading to the country’s only international airport and other major routes. Travelers along the Robertsfield highway leading to the country’s only international airport were forced to use motorbikes due to the blockades along the roads leading to the airport.

Prior to Johnson’s resignation, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying it is aware of ongoing protests by AFL spouses and the forced closure of major roads throughout greater Monrovia. The statement noted: “While the U.S. Embassy supports the right to peaceful protest, blockading roads and impeding the movement of Liberian citizens is disruptive and counterproductive. This is contrary to the respect of democracy and rule of law. We call on all parties to come together for a peaceful resolution and dialogue.”

Johnson’s resignation comes as the Boakai administration was forced to call off the annual Armed Forces Day celebration. The Proclamation of the day is in consonance with an Act of National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, declaring the 11th day of February of each year as Armed Forces Day to be observed as a National Holiday.

On the eve of the day, President Joseph Boakai, issued a directive for a scaled-back observance. The President’s call for reduced activities comes amidst ongoing protests from the wives and widows of Armed Forces personnel. The protesters had urged President Boakai to reconsider his nomination of the former Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (Retired) Prince C. Johnson III as Minister of Defense.

It is unclear what the immediate future holds for the former Chief of Staff of the army who was recently retired as a result of his preferment from the army. However, FrontPageAfrica has learned that the President is contemplating designating Johnson as Ambassador the Brussels or Ambassador-at-Large.

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