Just days before the assumption of full security responsibility by the Liberian Government, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf paid a visit at the Camp Kesselly Military Barracks off the Robertsfield Highway, where she held talks with the AFL top brass, headed by its Chief of Staff, Brig/Gen. Daniel D. Ziankhan.
The meeting which lasted for an hour did not only centered around security and the force readiness to take over from the United Nations Mission or UNMIL here but to also ascertain at first hand the plights of the men and women in arm. The President visit was a side track to the recent visit by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.
During the meeting which was held behind closed doors, President Sirleaf was said to have been adequately briefed about the current state of affairs of the AFL. The soldiers outlined their current challenges, while recounting progress made as well as provided update on the situation involving AFL Sergeant Melvin Tolbert.
Officer Tolbert was taken in to a temporary custody on Wednesday June 22, 2016, by a Criminal Court “A” judge pending a ruling on a habeas corpus issued against the AFL Command for allegedly detaining him in the Barracks for over 20-days and downplaying his request to be discharged from the army.
The Supreme Court later ordered the Criminal Court “A” to stop handling the case involving the office, further instructing that the soldiers be “remanded at the Military Barrack” pending the outcome of a scheduled conference, which was scheduled on 28 June.
However, Brig/Gen. Ziankhan and his officers presented the specifics of the various issues confronting the different segments of the AFL and actions taken so far to resolve same. They expressed strong concerns about conducts that tend to politicize the Military, adding that it will be a dis-service to the country and the men and women in arms were the military and its operations to be politicized.
The AFL High Command further assured the Commander-in-Chief of their continuous loyalty and commitment to the nation and called for the unflinching support of the Government and people of Liberia. They expressed their readiness to help ensure the protection of Liberia in the wake of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.
Responding to the AFL Chiefs, President Sirleaf thanked the AFL for their service to the nation and its people. She also lauded the men and women of the military for being a “Force for Good” and for being very professional in their conduct.
On the many challenges and constraints recounted by the High Command including those experienced at Camp Kesselly, the Commander-in-Chief committed the government to doing all in its powers to find amicable solution to them. President Sirleaf called on the men and women in arms to remind loyal and dutiful, adding that they have a key role in the maintenance of peace and security following more than a decade of peace and stability with international assistance.
“We will work with both the Ministry of National Defense and the leadership of the Armed Forces of Liberia to resolve the challenges,” while adding that government will ensure an effective, efficient and functional Armed Forces that protect that citizens and the borders of our country”, the Commander-in-Chief concluded.