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Home >> World
UPDATED: 07:58, June 16, 2005
Angry soldiers besiege Liberia's defense ministry, demand pay
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Angry soldiers besieged Liberia's Defense Ministry Tuesday evening, demanding two months salary arrears and adequate information regarding the restructuring of the army.

The soldiers set up roadblocks around the ministry, and Defense Minister Daniel Chea had to be rescued by the United Nations peacekeepers at about 18:35 local time.

As tension build up, Chea was escorted out of his office where he had been holding up for more than an hour and put in a police van and whisked off.

Up to nightfall, there were no incidents of violence, except motorists were denied access along the defense ministry route. Some of the protesting soldiers told Xinhua in the capital Monrovia that they were "fed up" with being treated as the "least among civil servants" whenever it came to their welfare.

The soldiers also said although they were informed that all those who were mobilized during the civil war would begin to be demobilized by June 15, they have not been adequately informed about their demobilization benefit.

Some of the soldiers were claiming 1,300 US dollars as demobilization benefit while others claimed that those who had served the army for 15 years and above were entitled to 25,000 dollars.

Responding to these claims, Defense Minister Chea acknowledged that the government was in two months arrears, but he said that the money was being secured at the time of the soldiers' protest and there was no need for them to have barricaded the Ministry.

Chea denied that the soldiers have not been adequately informed about the restructuring exercise. "Our public affairs department has been giving out adequate information to all of the soldiers," the Defense Minister maintained.

Chea said discussions were on-going between the government and representatives of the international community regarding demobilization and retirement benefit for the soldiers.

Source: Xinhua

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