Plenary rejects committee’s report
A law to amend certain provisions of the National Defense Act of 2008 to change the nomenclature of the Chief of Staff (COS) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and give it tenure, is under review at the House of Representatives.
According to the draft law, if it is amended, specifically in Section 3.2 (a) and Section 3.2 (b), AFL Chief of Staff shall be called the Chief of Defense Staff of the AFL, and shall have the tenure of five years, and can be re-elected for only a second tenure.
The new law states that the President (Commander-in-Chief) shall appoint the Chief of Defense Staff with advice and consent of the Senate. The Chief of Defense Staff will only be removed for a cause by the President with a simple majority vote from members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The new law indicated that the Chief of Defense Staff shall be known as Lieutenant General, instead of its previous title of Major General.
“The Chief of Defense Staff shall be the head of the AFL, who shall have the responsibility to maintain effective operations, readiness, morale and the property of the AFL,” Nimba County District #7 Representative, who is also chairman on Judiciary and co-chairman on the House’s Joint Committee on National Defense and Judiciary, Worlea Saywah Dunnah said.
He added that the change of title to the Chief of Defense Staff is to put the country on par with other African countries, whose soldiers have a similar title.
The report also stated that the Chief of Defense Staff shall have the authority to dispatch the AFL in and out of the country without meeting the approval of the Minister of Defense or the Commander-In-Chief.
In their arguments, some members of the House of Representatives, including Montserrado County District #4 Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh as well as Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray, argued that the AFL should be headed by a soldier, instead of civilian administrators.
The two lawmakers further argued that the new National Defense Law gives the Chief of Defense Staff absolute power, as well as the President, without the input of the Legislature.
After further arguments, the House’s plenary rejected the report, tabled and transmitted it for another session until the chairman on the House’s committee on National Defense, George Mulbah, is present to explain the New Defense Law to the House.
It can be recalled that Liberia’s Chief of Staff, Major General Daniel Ziankahn, has been appointed as the chairman of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff.