March 1, 2024

Defense minister steps down amid Liberian soldiers’ wives protests over poor conditions

Wives of soldiers in Liberia took to the streets to protest against low wages and poor standards of living in the military barracks, forcing the defence minister, Prince Charles Johnson III, to resign his position.

They accused the minister of paying low wages and also denounced the poor living standards in the military barracks.

President Joseph Boakai was forced to cancel National Army Day celebrations on Monday as agitation by the protesting women intensified.

They called for the immediate resignation of the defence minister, whom they accused of reducing the salaries of Liberian soldiers returning from peace missions in Mali.

The officers’ spouses also decried a lack of social security, electricity shortages, and corruption within the Liberian armed forces.

In his reaction to the agitation, the defence minister explained that he is stepping down due to the “current political and civil disturbances” caused by the protests, as he denied allegations raised against him.

The protest is a political test for the administration of the new president, led by Mr Boakai, who displaced former leader George Weah in a run-off that was largely conducted peacefully.

Liberia is still healing from two civil wars that killed more than 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003 and from a 2013–16 Ebola epidemic that killed thousands before the election.

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