The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia Major General Prince Charles Johnson, III, has disclosed that the United Nations has asked the Liberian government to increase its military strength in war-torn Mali by 45 percent. General Johnson declined to clearly state the actual number of soldiers the 45 percent represents on grounds that doing so might compromise the security of the current troop in Timbuktu, Mali.
“The soldiers are doing well. Currently, as I speak to you, the United Nations has asked us to increase by 45% of what we have there. The 45% will be a company plus size. “I can’t tell now the number of soldiers the 45% represents. The issue of stating exact number could compromise the security of the soldiers we currently have on Mission in Timbuktu, Mali.” He said.
According to General Jonson, the Liberian troops will leave for Timbuktu, Mali mid-August to help enforce the UN Peacekeeping Mission in that West African country.
Speaking over the weekend in an interview, he added that the Liberian government has military staff officers working with the United Nations in Southern Sudan, the newest country in Africa, including Staff Officers in Sudan.
Gen, Johnson noted that the nation’s last peacekeeping mission was in the 1960s in the Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo and after so many years, in 2013 former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf decided to launch the AFL into peacekeeping.
“I think we will say all credits go to the people of Liberia first, the government under Madame Sirleaf and the current government under President George Manneh Weah for always providing all necessary support for us to be in those countries. The national army then was disbanded and restructured because of activities that went on during our civil war. If you read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report (TRC) our institution was rated number seven for worst atrocities committed during the civil war among 27 warring factions and just imagine from 2006 to 2013 to launch the army into peacekeeping, I am proud”, he expressed.
General Johnson continued progress made by the soldiers in Mali, Sudan and South Sudan, shows how much Liberia is committed to keeping peace across the Africa.
He praised the United Nations for always prioritizing the empowerment of Liberian soldiers and noted it was a good thing to partner with the UN in Mali.
“We are getting a lot of benefits from the United Nations. For now, the soldiers in Mali are receiving 80% allowances form the UN while the 20% goes for operational cost”, he disclosed. Meanwhile, Gen. Johnson is calling on the Government of Liberia to include peacekeeping support in the national budget.
“For now, it is not there, all the time the soldiers being out. It is the 20% we’ve been using for operational cost, including getting passports, contingency cost – all comes from the same 20%”, the Chief of Staff revealed.