April 13, 2016 By Jariatu S. Bangura
The newly approved Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has promised to tackle the long unresolved benefits fallout with wounded-in-action (WIA) ex-soldiers.
Major-General John E. Milton was among seven presidential appointees approved by Parliament yesterday, following their nomination few weeks ago by President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The new CDS inherits the volatile issue of benefits to WIA ex-soldiers, which analysts could have led to the sudden sacking of his predecessor. Perhaps not oblivious of that, he assured lawmakers that he would rank the issue among his top priorities.
More than 500 soldiers who fought in the eleven years civil conflict were left with debilitating injuries, thus deemed unable to continue to serve as regular soldiers.
A group of them staged a peaceful protest outside the Ministry of Defence building, not far from State House, few weeks ago, demanding to see ad document detailing payment of their terminal benefits and even threatened to create mayhem if their demand was not heeded.
Major-General Milton said that: “As a matter of fact, we had discussed the issue with His Excellency, the President, and he has manifested a lot of interest in the matter. The wounded-in-action group needs to exercise a little bit of patience as a team has been put together to prepare a document on the WIA.” He added that no sooner the document is prepared than the Office of National Security (ONS) would certify it before it would be presented to President Koroma for approval.
Meanwhile, the other nominees that were approved include: Momodu L. Kargbo, Minister of Finance and Economic Development; Dr. Kaifala Marah, Bank Governor of Bank of Sierra Leone; Rtd. Alfred Palo Conteh, Minister of Internal Affairs; Mabinty Daramy, Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea; Dr. Christiana Thorpe, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology; and Ms. Rugiatu Nenneh Turay, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.