AFL has a bigger task at hand
-says Sen. Zargo ahead of 2023 elections
By Lincoln G. Peters
Lofa Senator Steve Zargo says the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has a bigger task at hand to ensure that the October 2023 presidential and legislative elections go on smoothly and peacefully.
“The biggest task that you have currently is to ensure that this election is conducted peacefully and smoothly,” Zargo said during an AFL-organized symposium as part of activities leading to the February 11, 2023, Armed Forces Day celebration.
The Senate Committee chair on Defense, Security and Intelligence and Veteran Affairs explained that the army won’t fold its arms when the first-line institutions are overwhelmed.
“You will be required to get engaged, but are you ready and prepared?” Senator Zargo questioned the military.
Delivering the keynote address at the 66th Armed Force Day symposium held at the Monrovia City Hall, Zargo said why the AFL may not be the first actor in the election process, but it is a key player in the process.
He noted that the first actors are the National Elections Commission (NEC), and the police, among others.
“When those first lines of institutions are overwhelmed and the military is called upon, will you fold your arms? Of course not,” he said.
The opposition senator stated that it’s now time that all Liberians work to ensure that the country’s hard-earned peace and democracy are preserved.
Senator Zargo noted that collectively Liberians fought and together they should maintain the peace.
“Why fighting for this democracy, we engaged our international partners. We are a member of the regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States),” he said.
Zargo reminded the audience at the symposium that international partners spent their time and resources investing in Liberia’s democracy.
He said they will not sit back, fold their hands and feel good to see Liberians reverse the peace.
“We have to all work to ensure that we maintain this peace,’’ he urged.
According to him, the President is the chairman and chief architect of Liberia’s national security policy.
He added that the President is advised by the national security council, therefore, he believes that it’s their responsibility to make sure they maintain the peace.
At the same time, Senator Zargo disclosed that Liberia has repeatedly failed to comply with the United Nations’ projection to beef up its military capacity to about five thousand men and women.
According to him, when the projection was made to be at five thousand plus men and women, the study was not only conducted by the internal stakeholders.
The Lofa Senator said international partners including the Americans, Nigerians, Ghanaians and Sierra Leoneans formed part of the process.
“The projection was made for us to be at five thousand plus men and women. Are we there yet? Of course not. We are not. Why are we not there? It’s our challenge,” he lamented.
“We are responsible for any action that may have caused us not to be there. How do we foster stakeholders’ engagement for a sustainable democracy when the first thing we should have done as we agreed we have not?”
He said this is a serious challenge and it needs to be looked at.
Giving a welcome remark at the program, the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) of the Armed Forces of Liberia Brigadier General Geraldine Janet George extolled the audience for participating and honoring the AFL’s invitation.
“I believe that your presence here today is very important because we all represent stakeholders to forester peace when it comes to our country,” she said.
She urged that the necessary question be asked and that key attention be given to ensure that Liberia’s democracy is maintained and protected.
The Armed Forces of Liberia on Tuesday held its 66th Armed Force Day symposium.
Several international and local stakeholders, and members of the security sector graced the program.
The symposium was held under the topic: “Fostering Effective Stakeholders’ Engagement for Sustainable Democracy.”
It was climaxed with a panelist discussion on the democracy and maintenance of Liberia’s peace and stability.