Liberia’s President Joseph Boakai has appointed a retired female brigadier general, Geraldine George, as the acting minister of defence after protests by the wives of soldiers forced the resignation of her predecessor.

This is the first time a woman is serving in the post, though it is unclear why Mrs George has been appointed only in an acting capacity.

She enlisted in the army in 2006 as it was being rebuilt following the end of a civil war and rose to become part of the elite forces. She has served as the deputy chief of staff for the last six years.

After Mr Boakai was sworn in as president on 22 January, he appointed her as the deputy for administration in the defence ministry.

Her promotion comes after Defence Minister Prince Charles Johnson III resigned following protests by the wives of soldiers on Monday.

His appointment was confirmed by Liberia’s senate only last week, but the protests forced him to step down.

The women said that as the former chief of staff of the armed forces, he was responsible for low wages and poor living conditions in the military barracks.

The women set up roadblocks near the capital, Monrovia, and elsewhere in the country, forcing Mr Boakai to cancel National Army Day celebrations on Monday.

Mr Boakai took office after narrowly defeating the incumbent, George Weah, in a run-off election last November as neither of them secured an outright majority in the first round of voting.

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