In the wake of UNMIL’s drawdown here, Senate President Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah, is calling for the re-instatement of ex-soldiers to beef up security for the post-UNMIL era. He urged both authorities of the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL to re-instate former soldiers of the defunct Armed Forces.
Speaking during a ceremony organized over the weekend in Monrovia by the ex-ruling National Patriotic Party or NPP in his honor, Senate Pro Tempore Jallah said the current strength of the restructured AFL is about 1,500, which according to him, is inadequate to defend the coastal and landline borders of Liberia.
In line with a Comprehensive Peace Accord signed by Liberian warring factions in Accra, Ghana in 2003, which called for a restructuring of the army, the U.S. State Department trained a 2,000 strong force for the new Armed Forces of Liberia, but the army has suffered series of desertions and summary dismissals due to indiscipline.
“I think the best option for the rebuilding of our army is to bring back the old AFL soldiers, who already have technical knowledge and experience to beef up the army. For now, it should be a concern to every Liberian,” he said.
But critics say the demobilized army was notorious for systematic abuse, including mass executions.
The Pro-Tempore said it is a glaring fact the Government lacks the resources to recruit men and women to beef up the current strength of the military, noting that the best option is to bring back those, who have had the training before and still have age at their advantage.
He warned that if nothing were done to increase the number of soldiers, upon the departure of UNMIL, the country could be on town bomb.
Pro-Tempore Jallah, who is Senator for Gbarpolu County, further stressed that the manner in which the army is being handled should be of serious worry to any well-meaning Liberian, adding, “If the UNMIL leaves today, we will be in serious problem because our entire armed force is 1,500. That number is the one we depend on in the time of crisis, which I don’t pray for.”
At the same time, he urged Liberians to be supportive as the country goes thru many challenges, and noted that every sector is faced with grave problems, including lack of shelter, school fees, and safe drinking water, among other socio services.
Pro-Tempore urged the Church of Liberia to play a vital role by guiding the country in the right direction. He promised to use his office to proffer views and challenges faced by Liberians to the Presidency for proper redress.
For his part, the national Chairman for the NPP, Cllr. Theophilus Gould, clarified that the Office of the Pro-Tempore is not to build roads, schools and hospitals, but to work with the Presidency through bills that will create the enabling environment for all Liberians.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor