Liberia

Liberia Warlords Speak

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News and Press Release
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Posted
Originally published
His Excellency
President Jerry John Rawlings
Chairman of ECOWAS and
President of Ghana
Castle, Osu
Accra, Ghana

Your Excellency:

We have the honor to submit herewith to your Excellency a position statement of the parties that are signatories to the Abuja Agreement. Major among the various issues addressed by this position statement is a proposal for an urgent review of the Abuja Accord so as to move the Liberian Peace process forward. With most esteemed regards.

Very truly yours

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu
Chairman, NPFL/CRC

cc: Members, ECOWAS Standing Mediation Committee of Nine.

POSITION STATEMENT ON THE CURRENT LIBERIAN CRISIS BY

The Liberia Peace Council (LPC), National Patriotic Front of Liberia-Central Revolutionary Council (NPFL-CRC), The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Lofa Defence Force (LDF), the Liberia National Conference (LNC) and the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO-J) parties to the Abuja Accord on Liberia.

Since April 6, 1996 an unprecedented level of death and destruction was unleashed on the more than one million residents of Monrovia by the NPFL led by Mr. Charles Taylor and the ULIMO-K led by Mr. Alhaji Kromah claiming to be acting int he name of the Government of Liberia under the pretext of insuring law and order by attempting to arrest and detain Major and detain Major General Roosevelt Johnson, Leader of ULIMO-J, (a signatory to the Abuja agreement), on trumped up charges of murder. Messrs Taylor and Kromah trucked into the city of Monrovia thousands of armed men who they referred to as government forces to effect Gen. Johnson's arrest.

There and then, the long held status of Monrovia as a safe haven was broken, the Abuja Peace Agreement violated and the city went into flames with ECOMOG, the much respected and honored West African Peace Keeping Force, standing by and watching.

The horrible events of April 6, 1996, which led to the destruction and burning of Monrovia, along with the wanton killing of thousands of innocent citizens, now means that the Abuja Agreement which gave birth to a government that has chosen to implement such a policy of destruction and anarchy, is now a fit subject for review.

The cycle of anarchy and chaos which has engulfed the country since 1990 has been re-enforced with the swamping of fighters in Monrovia under the command of their principals, mainly Mr. Taylor and his ally Mr. Kromah. The seed for continuous chaos and destruction has been sowed in Monrovia, once a safe haven before Mr. Taylor and ally Kromah entered the city.

The fundamental responsibility of the Council of State, born out of the Abuja Agreement, is to safeguard the transition to democracy within twelve months. With the current round of carnage however, it is clear that the Government lacks the moral and political will to lead this country to democracy through disarmament and demobilization of fighters. This unprecedented carnage, masterminded by the two men and unleashed on Monrovia, is only the climax of events since the seating of the Council. These events point to the Council's inability to rule the country through disarmament and demobilization for democratic elections. Developments, since its seating, which convince us of the Council's lack of political will to ensure disarmament includes:

1. The intimidation, harassment and arrests of clergy men, journalists and prominent citizens viewed as obstacles to the political ambition of Mr. Taylor and ally has become a policy of the Council of State. Since its seating in September 1995, the Councilmen, particularly Mr. Charles Taylor and his ally Alhadji Kromah, have consistently pursued a policy of division and anarchy culminating in the April 6 carnage which has thrown the entire peace process in total disarray. It is now inconceivable that individuals such as Councilmen Taylor and Kromah, who have established records as reckless disregard for fundamental rights of others can be entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the rise of a democratic government as provided for in the Abuja agreement.

2. The plan purporting to arrest ULIMO-J Mj/Gen. Roosevelt Johnson was a mere smokescreen to actualize the political ambition of the two men. It is now known that these men, in complete and total violation of the Abuja Accord, had hatched a plan to seize power by force. The selective destruction of private media institutions, the burning of homes of perceived political opponents and the massive looting of private property sometimes with the personal participation of Councilmen Taylor and Kromah, clearly give evidence that the objective in the purported Johnson arrest was not intended to ensure law and order as claimed by the two men.

A prevailing misconception surrounding the ongoing crisis in the country engineered by Mr. Taylor and ally Kromah is that it is the work of only the Krahn ethnic group. This ethnic group is viewed as being solely responsible for the current resistance against the NPFL and ULIMO-K. Nothing could be farther from the reality and truth. Although the conflict was alleged to have initially centered around Gen. Johnson, it has now assumed a national character primarily because Liberians will not surrender political power to anyone without democratic elections.

After six years of appeasing the NPFL and its leader Mr. Taylor, a policy that has led to chaos and the destruction of the country, Liberians will not succumb to any political manipulation from any circle designed to impose Mr. Taylor as President. Hence, the primary objective of this national resistance is to ensure the rise of democracy our of the ashes of the chaos and anarchy brought by the war. In this light, we recommend the following as a way of moving the process forward:

1. That an urgent meeting be convened anywhere outside of Liberia to review the Abuja Agreement by its signatories under the circumstances;

2. That pending the proposed meeting, all parties to the Accord should refrain from posing as officials of government to transact any business on behalf of the Republic of Liberia since the government as conceived under the Agreement is a totality of its signatories. Hence, no foreign government or international organization should transact business with the present establishment in Monrovia as a government nor undertake any financial or other transactions with it.

3. The absence of an investigation into the brutal and uncivilized carnage carried out in Monrovia recently, in our opinion by ECOWAS Authority is very disturbing. We believe that the extent to which the recent atrocities undermined the entire ECOWAS Peace Plan is grossly understated. Therefore, we recommend the setting up of a WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL on Liberia to bring to justice individuals suspected of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity. This is necessary to deter individuals inclined to repeat events such as the one which occurred on April 6, 1996. The level to which high-ranking government officials, including Councilmen, personally participated in the killings and looting cannot be ignored if sustainable peace is to be achieved.

4. That the decision of ECOWAS negotiating team to remove ULIMO-J fighters from Monrovia to only Tubmanburg is fraught with dangers and ambiguities. Throughout the recent Taylor-Kromah campaign of terror ULIMO-J forces were stopped from entering Monrovia from their bases in Tubmanburg.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that the thousands of NPFL and ULIMO-K fighters brought into the city to prosecute their war have been actually withdrawn to their so-called bases. What is known is that the NPFL and ULIMO-K have created mini military barracks throughout the city of Monrovia. The unilateral removal of military opponents to appease Mr. Taylor and ally Kromah effectively amount to giving them the opportunity to take Monrovia, something they have failed to do militarily. In the face of the huge and unprecedented military buildup by the combined fighters of the two men in Monrovia, the present policy of ECOWAS' negotiating team will ensure the military and therefore, political triumph of Mr. Taylor and ally Kromah. We believe that pursuing such a policy will effectively undermine disarmament and render moot democratic elections since Mr. Taylor's uncompromising presidential ambition would have been realized free of charge [and] at the expense of lives and properties.

5. In view of the fact that Monrovia is now swarmed with fighters and infested with arms, we recommend that a simultaneous disengagement of all fighters carried out and the city combed for arms. The sending of arms and armed men into other areas outside of Monrovia defeats the purpose of the Abuja Agreement since the notion that Monrovia is a safe haven has become an unfortunate fallacy with its surrounding littered with arms and bandits ready to strike at will.

6. Pending the review of the Abuja Agreement by its signatories, we recommend that no armed faction should exercise Police powers. The overt and active participation of Government officials, including the Police Director Joe Tate of the NPFL, in looting and killing that consumed Monrovia since April 6, deprives the Police of any standing to participate in security arrangement regarding a people that have fallen prey to the Police's notoriety during the events under review. Although confidence in the Police was low following the seating of the Government, events of April have not helped the situation.

CONCLUSION

Peace has been an illusion to Liberians since 1990 because of appeasing the architects of the crisis continues to be pursued. A clear indication of this is the manner in which negotiations following April 6 have been handled. We believe that a cardinal part of conflict resolution is the admission of truth. The truth in this case is that two of the signatories to the Abuja Agreement, Mr. Taylor and ally Kromah, have done serious damage to the peace process that may be irreparable if care is not taken. The indiscriminate and wanton killing of innocent citizens and peace keeping forces and the outright burning of Monrovia causing thousands more to flee into refugee camps in a subregion no longer willing to accept Liberians is sufficient to shock the conscience of mankind. For ECOWAS to continue to behave as if nothing has happened, thus continuing to appease Messrs Taylor and Kromah, the architects-in-chief of the April 6 horrors, means Liberia will continue to burn in perpetuity. Obviously this is bound to cast doubt on the integrity of ECOWAS leadership and diplomacy.

We are therefore making these recommendations with the belief that a just solution can be reached that Liberians can elect a government of their choice since it is now clear that there can be no military victory in the ongoing crisis without further unnecessary embarrassment to civilization.

Done in the City of Accra, Republic of Ghana June 6, 1996

Maj.Gen. D. Roosevelt Johnson
National Chairman, ULIMO-J

Francois Massaquoi
Chairman, LDF

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu
Chairman, NPFL/CRC

George S. Dweh II
Liberia National Conference

Maj. Gen. Philip Kamah
Armed Forces of Liberia

Dr. George S. Boley
Liberia Peace Council