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Friday, July 19, 2024

Boakai’s First Sign of Weakness; Liberian President Effortlessly Gives in to ‘Army Mutiny’…

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By Olando Testimony Zeongar

Hardly even a month after he took over, Liberia’s aged President, Joe Boakai, amid copious apprehensions that he would be an indecisive and weak leader, proved his critics right, at least for the first time, as he effortlessly gave in to what can be best described as a mutiny from some operatives of political actors within the country’s tiny military force.

All educated guesses and intellectual inclinations are believably pointed in the direction of political actors ordering certain unidentified elements within the army, who themselves it’s believed instructed a few of their spouses mixed with a large number of females recruited to pose as army wives – citing few genuine grievances, except one that is politically motivated and is for personal reasons, solely intended to get at Retired army general, former Chief of Staff of the Liberian army, Prince C. Johnson, III, disturbed the peace of the country, by unconstitutionally staging blockades at major roadways and highways across the country, impeding free movement for a day or two.

Firstly, the stage-managed protestation from the so-called army wives whose number was inflicted far above the actual number of men in arms, as evidenced by some of the ladies identified as having neither a link nor legitimacy with the military, was unconstitutional – in that it infringed on the freedom of movement of thousands of Liberians.

For Boakai and his government to have sat drowsily while Liberians’ right to free movement was being trampled upon by people with clearly premeditated political motives is a clear sign of weakness on the part of the new administration led by a man who professes to be in the Executive Mansion on a “Rescue Mission”, to say the least.

How come the police anti-riot unit was not called into action to disperse a group of people exhibiting acts of gangsterism?

For God’s sake, hospital-going folks, business people, students, and some with pressing schedules and timelines may have just been victimized, while Boakai and his officials folded their arms and effortlessly did nothing but yield to the singular politically motivated demand of gangsters acting in the name of army wives.

By the way, who are the advisors advising President Joe Boakai? How come, the President, who had earlier said he could not discuss the Retired General’s issue because he had received the Senate’s approbation and a presidential appointment, in no time went back to not just discuss the same issue but to have made a terrible concession such as yielding to the demand of sacking his Defense Minister?

No, President Boakai, Africa, especially Liberia needs leaders of strong will, who are decisive and resolved in decision-making.

I call it sacking because, in all fairness, Mr. President, you are the Commander-In-Chief, and you should have acted as one; stand by your word, even if Johnson did resign at his volition as you said, which I am finding difficult to believe, you still had the power to reject and not accept his resignation.

This can even lead to any level-headed person believing that Retired Major General Johnson was pressured or asked by you to resign. What if other groups of miscreants in our society take to the streets anytime soon and make their own sets of unrealistic and politically motivated demands, should we expect our President to give in as well?

Mr. President, to have given in to the unjustified demand of sacking your Minister of National Defense, before ordering a probe into circumstances surrounding the matter is unbelievable, and is a sign of weakness on your part as Commander-In-Chief (CIC) of the country’s armed forces.

Mr. CIC, why if you had used the police, dispersed the rioting gangsters, and then later told the handful of mutineers about your decision to launch an investigation? Truth be told, in other African nations, and even elsewhere in Asia and other parts of the world, by now heads would have been rolling in the army.

Those bearing greater responsibility for the recent madness would have now been rounded up and locked up behind bars awaiting court-martial – yes, that’s what CICs do, they stamp their authority over matters bearing security threats and don’t give in easily as you did.

We see now and then in other countries, even in the West, how unruly protesters, who infringe on the rights of others in the name of exercising their democratic right to protest, are dispersed, even employing teargassing, using whips, pepper spray, and water cannons, which are all conventionally acceptable methods for riot control as long as there is no use of live bullets.

How come none of these was first attempted to get those politically influenced quote-unquote wives of AFL soldiers to leave the streets they blocked, and you just accepted what a certain segment of the opposition bloc planned and executed to get at your now sacked Minister of National Defense?

In your statement on this year’s Armed Forces Day for which the usual ceremonies were partially held due to the mutineers’ foray, I heard you say indiscipline and breakdown of order in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) must never be tolerated. But Mr. President, by you yielding to a politically-motivated demand from a band of trouble-makes in the AFL, who misled and negatively influenced dozens of women, many of whom are not even wives lest to talk about being wives of army personnel, to sack your Defense Minister, falls nothing short of condoning indiscipline in the army, and moreover, marks the beginning of the breakdown of order in the AFL on your watch as CIC.

Moreover, in your Armed Forces Day message, you stated that no one should indulge in anything that will dampen the morale of our soldiers and generate doubt and suspicion, but that’s exactly the Pandora’s box you have opened; by allowing a few misguided elements in the military, who are mere puppets of their political puppeteers, to have held Liberians and some of our visitors hostage by blocking major roads in the country – yet, you so easily, effortlessly, and without exercising an inch of the gargantuan power and authority made constitutionally available to you, instantaneously capitulated from your previous decision not to have said anything concerning their demand to sack Retired Major General Johnson, to agreeing to such sickening saga.

Where on Planet Earth does a soldier or handful of military men demand that their CIC sacks his Minister of Defense and the President, without first exuding his Commander-In-Chief authority, but in the twinkling of an eye, acquiesces to such a very bad precedence – who does that? FYI, my President, human nature, especially Africans or should I say unique to Liberians, points to being stiff-neck or headstrong, and we will from time to time need leaders, with the will-power not to spare the rod in dealing with their subjects, especially those who are recalcitrant and pose threat to the peace of the nation, like the few mutineers in the military.

To this end, President Joe Boakai, rescuing this nation calls for a bit of a ‘bite and blow’ approach, which will require you to be decisively rigorous at times, while you use wisdom at other times, and not just being soft and lenient at all times only in the name of preserving the peace.

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