Liberia’s newly appointed defence minister resigned just 10 days into his tenure following protests by soldiers’ wives, marking the first political challenge for President Joseph Boakai since taking office at the end of January.
In a statement, the presidency confirmed that President Boakai had received and accepted the resignation letter from the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Prince C. Johnson, who cited ongoing political and civil disturbances caused by the protests as the reason for stepping down.
General Geraldine Janet George was swiftly appointed as the provisional replacement for the key ministerial position.
The protests, led by wives of Liberian soldiers, included roadblocks near the capital Monrovia and other parts of the country, prompting Boakai to cancel National Army Day celebrations. The women aired grievances ranging from inadequate salaries and pensions to lack of social security, electricity shortages, and corruption within the armed forces. They also demanded the resignation of the defence minister, holding him responsible for reduced salaries of soldiers returning from peace missions in Mali.
President Boakai, responding to the unrest, instructed the army to lift the roadblocks immediately and engaged with the protesters, promising to address their concerns. He ordered the restoration of electricity to military barracks and announced free classes for the school located within the compound.
Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, President Boakai’s team emphasized his commitment to swiftly addressing long-standing grievances and urged calm and peaceful cooperation from all parties involved.