Liberia Appoints First Female Defense Minister After Wives of Servicemen Set up Roadblocks

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know: 

Retired brigadier general, Geraldine George, has been appointed as Liberia’s first female acting Minister of Defense following the resignation of Retired Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson just ten days after entering the role.

Hours before Johnson was to be sworn into office by the Liberian Senate, the wives of servicemen and ex-servicemen staged a large protest outside the capitol grounds, which spread to barracks near Robertsfield highway, as well as Todee, Zwedru and Gbarnga. 

Johnson’s resignation came as the result of the wives’ continued protests demanding a new Defense minister as well as increased pay and better housing for them and their husbands. 

The wives set up roadblocks in Monrovia, Gbarnga, Zwedru, which brought much of the Nation to a standstill. 

In addition to their initial requests, the wives brought to light the lack of retirement plans for ex-servicemen, as well as sub par practices at military barracks.

The Details: 

Liberian officers speaking to the Liberian Observer claimed, “He [Johnson] was promoted nine times in the army, but he never wanted others to have similar opportunities, so he introduced a new policy to deny others.. After he was appointed COS (Chief of Staff), he changed the policy to five years—meaning AFL (Liberian Armed Forces) officers could only be promoted every five years..He came, and he drafted his own policy to suppress his subordinates. And he knows that the people he is suppressing are trained army people.”

A statement from the Liberian Executive Mansion on the 12th of February outlines President Boakai’s acceptance of Johnson’s resignation in order to ‘preserve the peace and security of the State.’

“The President of the Republic of Liberia and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai Sr., has received and accepted a letter of resignation from the recently confirmed Minister of National Defense Mr. Prince C. Johnson.


In his letter, the Minister of National Defense outlined his reasons for his action noting that due to the current political and civil disturbances occasioned by the protest of women believed to be wives of service men, he has made the decision to resign and preserve the peace and security of the State.


The President expressed gratitude to Minister Johnson for his invaluable service to the country and described him as a patriot.        


In another development, the President has instructed the Army to ensure all those impeding the free movement of people and vehicles through actions that block major thoroughfares across the country to immediately remove themselves and allow the government to resolve their grievances.”

So, What Now?:

Peculiarly, George has only been appointed as the acting Minister of Defense, and thus it is unclear if she is set to stay in the role despite being heavily qualified. The Liberian Ministry of Defense website states that George is a career solider and holds several qualifications including a Master of Arts in International Relations, a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, as well as certificates in Intelligence, Administration of Justice and Public Sector Management.