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Liberia’s Defence Minister Resigns Amid Protests

MONROVIA – Liberia’s newly appointed Minister of National Defence, Prince C. Johnson, resigned from his post on Monday, just 10 days after his appointment, following protests by soldiers’ wives, the presidency announced.

The resignation represents the first political crisis for Liberia’s newly inaugurated President Joseph Boakai since assuming office at the end of January.

President Boakai “has received and accepted a letter of resignation from the recently confirmed Minister of National Defence Mr. Prince C. Johnson,” the presidency said in a statement.

In response, the president swiftly appointed General Geraldine Janet George as the provisional replacement for the key post.

Johnson cited “the current political and civil disturbances occasioned by the protest of women believed to be wives of servicemen” in his resignation letter, expressing a desire to “preserve the peace and security of the State,” the statement added.

Wives of Liberian soldiers staged protests by setting up roadblocks near the capital Monrovia and other parts of the country, leading Boakai to cancel planned National Army Day celebrations on Monday, as reported by an AFP correspondent.

The women voiced grievances including low salaries, inadequate pensions, lack of social security, electricity shortages, and alleged corruption within the armed forces. They specifically demanded the resignation of the defence minister, holding him responsible for a reduction in the salaries of Liberian soldiers returning from peace missions in Mali.

Roadblocks, constructed from kitchen utensils and makeshift supplies, appeared in various locations across the country on Monday, causing significant traffic disruptions.

President Boakai instructed the army on Monday to immediately lift the roadblocks, according to the presidency. He had previously met with the soldiers’ wives on Sunday, promising to address their concerns by establishing a commission and initiating measures such as restoring electricity to barracks and offering free classes in the compound school.

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His team emphasized that Boakai had taken immediate steps to address long-standing issues within his short time in office and urged calm and peaceful cooperation from all parties as the government seeks to resolve grievances.

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