With just 11 days left for former international soccer legend Mr. George Manneh Weah to take over Liberia’s presidency, officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and their wives and widows of fallen AFL officers are throwing tantrums at the President – elect through their usual protests for benefits.
In what may be a resounding warning message of what Mr. Weah is to expect upon taking over from outgoing President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf on 22 January, soldiers and their wives here first blocked a major highway leading to the airport in Margibi on Tuesday, 9 January before widows of AFL Officers also protested outside President Sirleaf’s office for benefits on Wednesday, 10 January.
President Sirleaf has had to encounter these kinds of protests repeatedly throughout her two terms particularly during festive seasons, but these farewell protests seem to be a warning of how well Mr. Weah should be prepared to discuss with widows of ex-service men after Mrs. Sirleaf turns over to him shortly.
The head of the AFL widows Esther Myers claims that they are protesting before President Sirleaf’s office for their husbands’ benefits of alleged US$3,000 each.
“Our husband died. Wait now, my husband joined since 1969. All of them are widows that protesting,” she claimed Wednesday after encountering President Sirleaf.
But the outgoing administration has repeatedly claim that it has paid off all benefits to the widows.
Ahead of the protest on Wednesday, soldiers dressed in ordinary clothes and their wives had also blocked the highway to the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in demand of reimbursements for alleged US$20.00 cut monthly from their salaries by Defense Authorities since 2006.
The two separate protests from the wives of serving AFL officers and other women claiming to be AFL widows are taking place at a time President Sirleaf is transitioning to hand over power to Mr. Weah who may not be so politically accustomed to the way some groups would throw tantrums at their leaders here.
Following President Sirleaf’s brief conversation with the protesting widows that had assembled outside her office, the group’s head Esther Myers assured the president that they would wait for her to return from dedication programs of project so that they can discuss.
President Sirleaf had asked the women to leave the street and wait for her at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that she could meet with them following dedicatory programs where she was already heading to when she encountered the protesters.
By Winston W. Parley