Liberia’s Defense Minister Steps Down Amid Protests by Soldiers’ Wives

Liberia’s new Defence Minister on Monday, resigned from his position just 10 days after assuming office following a protest by soldiers’ wives, the presidency said.
The abrupt resignation poses the first political challenge for Liberia’s President Joseph Boakai, who was inaugurated at the end of January.
President Boakai acknowledged and accepted Prince C. Johnson’s resignation, swiftly appointing General Geraldine Janet George as the interim replacement.
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 his resignation letter, Johnson referenced “the current political and civil disturbances occasioned by the protest of women believed to be wives of service men,” expressing his desire to “preserve the peace and security of the State.”
Wives of Liberian soldiers erected roadblocks near Monrovia and other parts of the country, prompting the cancellation of National Army Day celebrations on Monday.
They also demanded the defence minister’s resignation, blaming him for a reduction in the salaries of Liberian soldiers returning from peace missions in Mali.
New roadblocks made of kitchen utensils and makeshift supplies appeared elsewhere in the country on Monday.
Drivers stuck in long traffic jams on the road leading to the airport opted to abandon their vehicles and continue their journey on foot.
The protests highlighted grievances regarding low salaries, pensions, social security, electricity shortages, and corruption within the armed forces.
President Boakai on Sunday met with the soldiers’ wives, promising to address their concerns and establish a commission to investigate.
Immediate measures included restoring electricity and offering free classes at the Edward Binyah Kesselly barracks.
“The President has been in office for 20 days only and he has taken immediate steps already to address some of these issues which have been festering for more than five years,” his team said in a statement.
Boakai emphasized the urgency of resolving longstanding issues, urging calm and peaceful engagement from all parties as the government works to address the grievances.
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