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Coup in West Africa: Liberian Army Chief Makes Case for Scrapping of Presidential Guards
African News

Coup in West Africa: Liberian Army Chief Makes Case for Scrapping of Presidential Guards


Military interregnum in West Africa is a direct consequence of politicians meddling in affairs of the military and security agencies which has thrown organisational discipline out of the door on the altar of political patronage, the Chief of Staff to the Liberian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Charles Johnson III has complained.

Maj. Gen. Charles Johnson III

Responding to journalists question on rising military coup in West Africa on Thursday at the sidelines of the joint delocalized meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Joint Committees on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and the African Peer Review Mechanism, Judicial Affairs and Human rights, Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment in Monrovia, he said the military has strong structure that most politicians come in to destabilize and cause disaffection that often result indiscipline that snowball into coup d’etat.


He said one of the ways to put an end to military interregnum  in West Africa is by abolishing the Presidential Guards which has become a monster in some countries as they are not placed under the control of military command.

Johnson III said it was wrong to give power to any military the country’s military command, insisting that every soldier should be made to take instruction from the Chief of Defence Staff and not directly from the Commander in Chief.

The military commander who was reacting to the coup in Niger Republic and growing military seizure of power in parts of West Africa, said ECOWAS member states must be mindful of how much control the military has, and if not abolished, the Presidential Guards of the Commander in Chief must not be allowed to wield so much power.


Johnson III who had addressed members of the ECOWAS Parliament on the topic: “The Role of the Armed and Security Forces in Political Government: The Cases of Mali,Burkina Faso, and Guinea, Lessons to be Learned and Prospects,” said: “My second recommendation was the issue of Presidential guard or elite forces that has direct control on the commander in Chief.

“So, if you look at what is happening even in Niger yesterday (Wednesday), it is the Presidential Guards. And look at our history in Liberia, we have seen the issue of Presidential Guards being misused.

“The Peace and Reconciliation report of 2008 that says that, the Special Anti-Terrorism Unit was involved in a lot of alleged atrocities according to the report.

“That is why I emphasized that we need to be mindful and allow the military to have this control.


“When you have this political interference into the command and control of the military, like having a Presidential Guards, the Commander in Chief selecting somebody to head it instead of allowing the CDS, Chief of Defense Staff to go through that process or having somebody to control, then it becomes a problem.

“Because the CDS or the Chief of Staff has no control over the unit because he takes direct control from the Commander in Chief.”

Johnson III said that there is no justification for any military coup no matter the situation, advising members of ECOWAS Parliament to advise their governments against interfering with military deployments.


He said: “Most of them are Parliamentarians, most of them are close to the power or they will soon be close and these are some of the advices they need to give their respective leaders, that do not get involved in the military.

“No justification for all the military coups that have been happening, absolutely not. We Military are yet to protect society not to be on to defend ourselves so indeed it is totally wrong.”

The Liberian Major General also advocated for dialogue with the embattled countries, noting that sanctions were not the best ways to resolve such crises.

He said that terrorism will not be adequately fought if the countries are kept aside, adding that suspending them poses more threats especially with border countries.

He noted that: “So, my last recommendation is that we need to dialogue. We cannot fight terrorism if we suspend these countries.

“I have a border with Guinea, we need to protect the land border between Liberia and Guinea. If our heads of states go ahead to sanction them, can you still allow countries with borders with Guinea to work with her.

“Because if I am not working with Guinea it is going to be difficult. That is why I made a recommendation that we still need to dialogue and use the committee of the Chief of Defense Staff to be the ones engaging some of these activities that we have in our region”.

Johnson III said that the military must stick to its mandates of protecting the nation and not interfere in governance.

Arise News


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