Liberia confirms 5% soldiers desert new army
Ahead of Liberia’s Armed Forces Day celebration on February 14, the country’s Defense Ministry has confirmed media reports that many soldiers in the newly formed army are deserting the force.
The strength of the new Liberian armed forces has been put just over 2,000.
Speaking to Journalists in Monrovia at the weekend, Defense Spokesman David Dahn downplayed the pace at which soldiers are leaving the new army, but said 5% of them have left the military and gone back into civilian life.
“We will state here that the military remains intact and those that have left, their percentage could be nothing more than five percent.Those that have decided to leave for any other cause are very small. When people breach military rules, they must be punished and we are not going to renege on that," Defense Spokesman Dahn said.
Other reports in the past said up to 500 newly trained soldiers had abandoned their barracks principally because pay, benefits and conditions they had anticipated during the recruitment drive fell short of expectation.
After Liberia’s 14 years civil war the country’s old Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) which was factionalized, was dissolved and a new one created.
The US government conducted the training through its military contractor, Dyne Corps under the Security Sector Restructuring (SSR), which was put at some US$200m.
Meanwhile, a top Liberian human rights lawyer says the government is violating the country’s constitution by having a Nigerian General, Maj. Gen. Suraj Abdurrahman serving as Chief of Staff of the new army.
But the Defense Ministry has denied that the constitution is being breached and said the country was in unique circumstances occasioned by the fraticidal civil war.
“When you have a crisis like what we went through, when the military was fictionalized, you could not take a Gio, Krahn or a Gola man to make him the Chief of Staff when the army was divided. How could we find a stabilizing force when only the sub-region could be trusted? We cannot continue to build an army with mistrusts when Liberians said they could not trust our past national army, where could we have turned?” the Liberian Defense Spokesman said.