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No show on Armed Forces Day

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-Officials cite Covid-19 protocol

Liberia’s Defense Ministry officials say this year’s celebration of the Armed Forces Day on 11 February 2021, will be held without much of the traditional formalities including the elaborate military parade being observed to protect the soldiers’ wellbeing against the coronavirus crisis.

Addressing a press conference Monday, 1 February at the Ministry of Defense, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs Mr. Sam Collins said the Defense Ministry will not have an event that will gather up to 3,000 persons because it is concerned about the wellbeing of officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

“We are also involved in peacekeeping missions around Africa – Sudan, Southern Sudan and Mali,” he says, adding that they also have a mission in Ethiopia and at the UN, among others, so they are concerned about the wellbeing of soldiers.

During a low-key program due 11 February, there will be no keynote speech to mark the official celebration of the 64th Armed Forces Day, but speeches are expected from the President and Commander – Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, President George Manneh Weah and the Minister of Defense Daniel D. Ziankahn, according to the defense officials.

Mr. Collins explains that the 64th Armed Forces Day celebration begins with a symposium on Wednesday, 3 February at 10am at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town under the theme: “The Military in Sustaining Democracy.”

While Mr. Collins announces Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) president, TiawonGongloe as keynote speaker for Armed Forces Day (AFD) symposium due Wednesday, the Defense authorities at the press conference say there will be no keynote speaker for the main ceremony that will be held on 11 February.

Meanwhile Minister Collins explains that in separate activities leading to the Armed Forces Day, the AFL will reach out to no more than 500 persons, disclosing that residents of Kpakpacon Town in Marshall, Margibi County will benefit this time around from free treatment of common sicknesses.

He says this is the Ministry of Defense and AFL’s way of reaching out to the people as part of the civil – military relationship, making the people feel comfortable with their military. “So lot of money is put into it, drugs have been purchased, high quality drugs … and treatment [is] just free of charge,” he adds.

He calls on residents of Kpakpacon Town to get together in their numbers on 6 February as the AFL will be there to treat common sicknesses like cold and malaria, among others. During the treatment process, Minister Collins indicates that GSM Company Lonestar Cell MTN will be there to give gifts to the children.

While the AFL will be at Kpakpacon Town on 6 February, Minister Collins discloses that there will also be a cleanup campaign in Gbarnga, Bong County, and at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia.

Giving an outline of the AFD symposium, Mr. Collins names Bong County Representative Moima Briggs Mensah, National Elections Commission Chairperson Davidetta Brown Lansanah, Governance Commission Acting Executive Director Madam Cecelia N. Flomo and Booker Washington Institute Principal Harris FumbahTarnue as discussants.

He also names Montserrado Representative Suacoco Dennis, Dr. J. Clarence Yaskey, Madam Sarah Walker, Cllr. Cyril Jones, Lt. Col. Matthew Alden of the US. Embassy and Montserrado Representative Jimmy W. Smith as discussants.

According to him, the symposium will be followed by a Jummat Service at the Mandingo Quarter Mosque in Kakata City, Margibi County on Friday, 5 February at 12pm.

He says on Saturday, 6 February, there will be a cleanup campaign and medical outreach taking place simultaneously which will be followed by the launching of a mini basketball court and football tournament.

On Saturday, 7 February, there will be a Thanksgiving Service at the New Water in the Desert in the VOA Community of Brewerville at 10am. On Thursday, 11 February, the Armed Forces Day celebration will kick off at 7am.

Major El-Dorado Jebboe, Director of Public Affairs, Armed Forces of Liberia, says on the usual program that is held under normal conditions that’s where they bring keynote speakers.

“But on this day we have kind of downsized the program to an extent that the only person that’s going to be speaking besides the Honorable Minister of National Defense is the Commander – in – Chief [President George Manneh Weah],” he says. Major Jebboe notes that “there’s no keynote speaker” for this year’s Armed Forces Day celebration. By Winston W. Parley

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