The Chief of Staff of the Liberian Armed Forces, Maj.-Gen. Charles Johnson III, has called for limits to be placed on the powers of presidential guards in order to prevent coups in the region.
Johnson made the call on Thursday, speaking to journalists at the sidelines of a 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.
His comments come in the wake of the recent coup in Niger, which saw President Mohamed Bazoum overthrown by the military.
Johnson said that presidential guards should not be directly controlled by the commander in chief, as this can lead to abuse of power and the overthrow of democratically elected governments.
“We need to be mindful and allow the military to have this control,” he said. “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, to go through that process or having somebody to control, then it becomes a problem.”
Johnson also said that there is no justification for any military coup, no matter the situation.
He urged members of the ECOWAS Parliament to advise their governments against interfering with military deployments.
“We Military are yet to protect society not to be on to defend ourselves so indeed it is totally wrong,” he said.
Finally, Johnson advocated for dialogue with the embattled countries in the region, rather than imposing sanctions. He said that sanctions would not be effective in resolving the crises, and could actually make them worse.
“We cannot fight terrorism if we suspend these countries,” he said. “I have a border with Guinea, we need to protect that border land between Liberia and Guinea. If our heads of states 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.”