The Chief Of Staff to the Liberian Armed Forces Maj.-Gen. Charles Johnson III has urged regional governments to reduce the powers of Presidential Guards to the Commander in Chief to surmount a Coup d’etat in the region.

He stated this in an interview with journalists shortly after his paper presentation 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, Liberia.

Citing the case of Mail, Burkina Faso, Guinea as well as the recent coup in Niger under the topic “The Role of the Armed and Security Forces in Political Government: The Cases of Lessons to be Learned and Prospects.” Maj-Gen. Johnson said powers bestowed on regional Presidential guards could be linked to the major factor heightening unconstitutional change of power and called for proactive measures to prevent more incidences of the bridge of governance for democracy to drive.

“My second recommendation was the issue of Presidential guard or elite forces that has direct control over 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 says that the Special Anti-Terrorism Unit was involved in 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 has no control over the unit because he takes direct control from the Commander in Chief.”

The Chief of Staff further highlights the importance of educating the leaders on the need to allow the military to give recommendations on who to guard the president.

“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.

“So, my last recommendation is 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 borderland between Liberia and Guinea. If our heads of state 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 in some of these activities that we have in our region”. Johnson III says government at all levels must not interfere with the political appointment of the military activities as it is their mandate to protect the nation and not take over the government

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