Defense Authority Sets Record Straight

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BTC, Monrovia- The Ministry of National Defense has noted with utmost dismay a barrage of publications in recent times by the Daily Observer Newspaper relative to what the paper published as late arrival of Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Daniel D. Ziankahn at an official United Nations (UN) program. Interestingly, the lifting of the story has been followed by series of editorials on the General.

The Ministry of National Defense wishes to respond to those publications (June 2, June 6, and June 13, 2016) by providing the following traceable facts for public verdict:
The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) invited Brigadier General Daniel D. Ziankahn at a ceremony slated for Friday, 27 May, 2016, 0900 hours at the Pan African Plaza in Monrovia as part of a global program to honor peacekeepers.

The Chief-of-Staff (COS) Ziankahn arrived half hour ahead of the 0900 hours commencement timetable, was received by UNMIL Force Commander Major General Salihu Zaway Uba and both men proceeded upstairs in M/Gen Uba’s office to discuss UNMIL’s transition and other official matters. (We encourage you to verify this assertion.)

At the appropriate time both generals were advised by UNMIL’s protocol to move downstairs and as a matter of military courtesy, were rendered the customary ‘military rendition’ by the band and troops.

With all due respect to the UN, it was not the intent of the Honorable Defense Minister to appear late at the official function, but it was due to an official representation on behalf of the Commander-in Chief at a funeral of the son of the venerated Judge Luvenia-Ash Thompson. Understandably, Minister Samukai was several minutes beyond schedule.

At no time, neither Brigadier General Ziankahn nor any member of his office staff ever established any communication link (whether through letter or phone calls) with the Daily Observer Publisher Kenneth Y. Best, inviting or summoning him.

It was Assistant Defense Minister/Public Affairs, David K. Dahn and later, Deputy Defense Minister/Administration and then acting Defense Minister, Joseph F. Johnson, who established phone contacts with Mr. Best regarding Daily Observer’s publications while clarifying that the requested meeting was to come and see the ‘Acting Minister’ to state the facts. Mr. Best and Minister Dahn had agreed to a proposed meeting on Monday June 6, 2016. That meeting didn’t materialize because Mr. Best claimed that he was advised by his lawyer not to do so. Mr. Best, however, advised the Defense Authority to do a rebuttal and the Daily Observer would publish it.
The Armed Forces of Liberia remain un-detracted, professionally focused and committed to executing its mandate within the ambit of the Constitution and in consonance with UN as UNMIL draws down.

David K. Dahn
Assistant Defense Minister/Public Affairs

Editor’s Note:
Minister Dahn,
Thank you for your rebuttal. However, you did not mention the part where Chief of Staff Ziankahn spoke directly with Mrs. Mae Gene Best, Mr. Best’s wife, via phone, introducing himself as Chief of Staff and conveying a message to Mr. Best through her, to call him. “Mr. Best doesn’t know me,” Ziankahn said, “but I know him.”

You are insinuating that Mr. Best is making things up, and we both know that the man has better things to do with his time than to fabricate stories. It was Assistant Minister Dahn that called Mr. Best on the same Friday, June 3, 2016, telling him (Mr. Best) that the Chief of Staff wanted to see Mr. Best in his (the Chief of Staff’s) office at B.T.C. on Monday, June 6, 2016, at 10 o’clock a.m..
Meanwhile, we appreciate your explanation of where COS Ziankahn was at the time the program was scheduled to have started—you say he was upstairs in the Pan African Plaza Building meeting with the UNMIL Force Commander when the rest of the invited guests were already seated awaiting the commencement of the program, which was scheduled for 9:00 o’clock a.m. It is good to know where the COS was, but this does not detract from our story which said that the Chief of Staff was not at the program when it should have started. He appeared at the program at 9:24. But out of respect for the Minister of Defense, Brownie Samukai, the organizers waited a little longer until his arrival at 9:37, which you, Assistant Minister Dahn, admitted to in your letter to the Daily Observer.

Thank you.

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