Powers Of Presidential Guards Must Be Limited To Prevent Coup – Liberian Army Chief
To prevent more incidences of Coup d’etat in the region, Maj.-Gen. Charles Johnson III, Chief of Staff to the Liberian Armed Forces has said that powers of Presidential Guards of the Commander in Chief must be limited.
Johnson made this known while speaking with journalists 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.
Following the Coup d’etat that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger out of power on Wednesday, Johnson III said that member states must be mindful of how much control the military has.
Johnson had earlier delivered a paper on the topic “The Role of the Armed and Security Forces in Political Government: The Cases of Mail, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, Lessons to be Learned and Prospects.
Johnson 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, 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 into 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 guard, the Commander in Chief selecting somebody to head it instead of allowing the CDS, Chief of Defense Staff DS to go through that process or having somebody to control, then it becomes a problem.
“Because the CDS or the Chief of Staff have no control over the unit because he takes direct control from the Commander in Chief”.
The military should be able to help in recommending and helping the commander in Chief, who should be the one not the person that you heard handpicking the Persons.
Johnson III said that there is no justification for any military coup no matter the situation, as he strongly advised members of the ECOWAS to advise their governments against interfering with military deployments.
“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 advice they need to give their respective leaders, that do not get involved into 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,” Johnson III added.
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.
“So, my last recommendation that like we need to dialogue. We cannot fight terrorism if we suspend these countries.
“I have a border with Guinea, we need to protect that border land between Liberia and Guinea. If our heads of states go ahead to sanction them, can you still allow me to work with Guinea.
“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 pour region”.
Johnson III said that the military must stick to its mandates of protecting the nation and not interfere in governance.