Defence Minister Resigns Over Protests In Barracks

Liberia’s Defence Minister, Prince Charles Johnson III, has resigned following protests by wives of the country’s soldiers, who blamed him for low wages and poor living conditions in the military barracks.

The women set up roadblocks near the capital Monrovia and elsewhere in the country, forcing President Joseph Boakai to cancel National Army Day celebrations on Monday.

They demanded the defence minister’s resignation, blaming him for a reduction in 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 armed forces.

The protests started on Sunday near the Edward Binyah Kesselly barracks, in Monrovia.

Mr Johnson, in a statement, said he was stepping down due to the “current political and civil disturbances” occasioned by the protests.

He, however, denied allegations of misusing military funds, adding that his wish was to ensure discipline was instilled in the army.

President Boakai, who was inaugurated in January, through his office, said the women’s grievances would be investigated and addressed.

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