The Liberian government said it has information that former members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and other security agencies are planning to protest Monday or any time this week to demand salary arrears which they said the government owes them.
Lawrence Bropleh is Liberia?s minister of information. He said the government will not be intimidated.
?The government, you need to be aware, inherited these arrears owed all civil servants and former personnel of the AFL from three successive governments, and the government has already settled some of these arrears and is presently considering every measure possible to settle the arrears in a reasonable period of time. And so our message to the former AFL security personnel is that the government will not be intimidated or harassed to do that which the government cannot do at this time,? he said.
The former soldiers have accused the government in the past of constantly changing its position and going back on its promises. Minister Bropleh said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is concerned about the soldiers? grievances.
?The president is concerned. She?s a caring person and understands the plight of all of Liberians. And that is why, in an effort to ease the burden of civil servants, including the former AFL and other security personnel, especially during the holiday season, the government, consistent with resource availability is actively considering providing one month salary arrears for the month of April in 2003 as efforts continue to find an amicable solution to this problem,? Bropleh said.
The Liberian information minister said the government was not threatening the former soldiers about the planned protests. He said the government is one of laws that allows free demonstration. But Bropleh said the government is also under obligation to uphold the law.
?We have no problem with former AFL security personnel demonstrating within the realm of the law. This is the government has participatory democracy, and democracy, and democracy allows for people to demonstrate. What the government will not tolerate is any attempt to disturb the public peace, to disrupt the normal flow of daily activities, or commit acts of violence against the Liberian people. That would be dealt with in full accordance with the law,? Bropleh said.
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