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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Liberia: Action/B'ground Docs,2
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
However, we hope they may still provide leads for your research.
Liberia: Action/B'ground Docs,2
Date Distributed (ymd): 960411

Part 1 contains a press release from Friends of Liberia and
references to other background documents.

**********************************************************
Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN)
401 Michigan Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20017
Phone: (202)832-3412 Fax: (202) 832-9051
E-mail: afjn@igc.org

Excerpts from posting of April 9, 1996; omissions indicated by
...  The full text is available on the africa.news conference
in the APC networks.  Others wanting the full text please
contact AFJN.

Since April 6, 1996, the capital of Liberia, Monrovia, has
witnessed an intensive renewal of fighting.  The fighting
erupted following the refusal of Roosevelt Johnson, leader of
the United Liberia Movement for Democracy - ULIMO-J a breakway
faction of the parent group by the same name headed by Alhadji
Kromah and now known as ULIMO-K, to surrender to the police.
Mr. Johnson was accused by the ruling Council of State (COS),
Liberia's third transitional government since the civil war,
of murder and therefore wanted him arrested.  Mr. Johnson
contends that the COS had no right to issue an arrest since
all of the heads of the warring factions are automous pending
national elections that were slated for August 1996.
Additionally, Mr. Johnson said that he would not surrender to
members of the Police since they were all members of the
National Patriotic Front of Charles Taylor and therefore
incapable of rendering justice.  ...

Please find below a report which would give additional
background to the present conflict.  A member of AFJN staff is
in contact with the author of the report and has spoken to him
several times since the Easter fighting erupted.  Feel free to
contact AFJN for additional information or clarification.

JUSTICE AND PEACE COMMISSION
NATIONAL CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT
Phone 224010/226930/223050
Fax 231-225217
P.O.Box 10-3569 1000
Monrovia 10 LIBERIA

STATEMENT ON DEVELOPMENT IN THE PEACE PROCESS
April 3, 1996

September 1, 1995, witnessed the seating of the Liberia
National Transitional Government (LNTG-II), composed of heads
of Warring Parties. At the seating, there was rejoicing that
the inferno was nearing an end and peace would finally be
restored. The belief was, with the factions in control of
their fighters they could easily cease all hostilities,
disengage their troops, stop the mayhem and terror against the
civilians and effect disarmament once they were given
political power.

Since the seating of this Government (LNTG-II), developments
have demonstrated the lack of commitment and expected progress
to the dictates of the Abuja Agreement and its Schedule for
Implementation.

Recent developments in the Peace Process suggest a lack of
commitment on the part of factions leaders to implement the
military aspect of the Abuja Agreement and correct distortions
in the political arrangement. The issues of cessation of
hostilities, disengagement of forces, dismantling of
checkpoints and their subsequent taking over by ECOMOG to
facilitate free movement and then subsequent disarmament and
demobilization; mass dismissals, demoralization of the civil
service among others still remain unattended. Except for
cosmetic attempts, empty rhetoric and, sometimes feeble
directives, no substantial progress has been made in the
direction of disarmament. Indications have instead been
pointing towards massive preparations for the build up of war
machines, more destruction and territorial conquest.

Testimonies of fleeing victims of brutality as well as the
indelible scars they bear speak of the severity and the
gruesome nature of hostilities still raging in the hinterland,
and capital of our country, all of which bring into sharp
question the sincerity of our leaders in fulfilling the peace
mandate of the Abuja Agreement.

A catalogue of the major events reflects not only a breach of
the Abuja Peace Pact but conspicuous evidences that the war is
far from over and peace remains illusive.

THE ULIMO-J ATTACK ON THE PEACEKEEPERS

Consistent with the terms of the Abuja Peace Agreement as
spelt out in section G. Article 8, Sub-Section 2, relative to
ceasefire violations and their investigations, a team of the
Ceasefire Violation Committee conducted an investigation into
the ECOMOG/ULIMO-J fighting in Bomi. In their findings, the
Ceasefire Violations Committee indicted ULIM0-J for unprovoked
attacks on the Peace Keepers in Gbarma and Tubmanburg.

...

The Justice and Peace Commission strongly condemns this
unprecedented attack on the peace keepers and the civilian
population, in Tubmanburg, Klay and other areas in Bomi County
as this is counter productive to the search for peace. We pay
tribute to those gallant men and women of ECOMOG as well as
civilians who lost their lives in that senseless battle.

...

THE COUNCIL OF STATE'S INTERVENTION AND  DECISIONS REGARDING
THE ULIMO-J LEADERSHIP CRISIS

While we welcome the decision of the Council Of State to
intervene in the ULIMO-J conflict the extent, however, to
which the Council went in taking decisions on the matter
appears counter productive to the resolution of the conflict
and thus undermines the entire Peace Process.

It can be recalled that on March 5, 1996, the Council of State
of the Liberia National Transitional Government with an
attendance and a total of four members, reached a number of
decisions among which are:

- The temporary recognition of a new leadership of ULIMO-J led
by Gen. William Karyee;
- The suspension of Gen. D. Roosevelt Johnson from his
Ministerial post at the Ministry of Rural Development;
- The dismissal of the Governor of the National Bank of
Liberia; and, an order to ECOMOG to search the home of Gen.
Johnson for arms, ammunition and other war-like materials.

The Council, in making the decision to recognize Gen. Karyee
as the new Leader of ULIMO-J said their decision was based on
Gen. Johnson's refusal to attend a call of the Council to
discuss the leadership crisis within ULIMO-J.

We call on ULIMO-J to take immediate steps aimed at resolving
the internal fracas which continue to create a state of fear
in an already fluid military situation as we find ourselves in
today.

We call on the ECOWAS authorities, the United Nations Observer
Mission (UNOMIL), the Inter-faith Mediation Committee, the
Council of State and all well meaning individuals to intervene
in the deepening ULIMO-J fracas so as to bring sanity to the
peace process. We are convinced that a negotiated settlement
and not a verdict, is a better approach for the resolution of
the conflict.

STOCKPILING OF WEAPONS

There are widespread reports that there is a massive stockpile
of weapons in Monrovia. These weapons are owned by the various
factional leaders and their representatives.  Every home in
Monrovia and other safe-havens in Liberia, should and must be
searched.  The search of Gen. Johnson' residence and the
subsequent retrieval of weapons and other war-like materials
is very welcomed but must extend to all other Factional
Leaders indiscriminately if Monrovia is to be free of arms.

...

The Abuja Accord imposes upon ECOMOG the responsibility to
provide security for the entire Liberian citizenry, including
the Councilmen. This, according to the Accord, should be done
by ECOMOG in concert with the national security institutions.
To have factional leaders and their loyalists carrying arms
and building arsenals under the guise of protecting themselves
does not only contravene the Agreement but places Monrovia and
its civilian population at risk, especially against the fact
that body-guards of factional leaders hate been on the rampage
flogging, extorting people and illegally evicting citizens
from their homes.

We therefore call on ECOMOG and UNOMIL to launch a massive
house to house search of weapons so as to restore the safe
haven nature of Monrovia and save the lives of thousands of
people that stand to be destroyed if the buildup of weapons
and other war-like materials are allowed to continue
unchecked.

THE NPFL ATTACK ON ULIMO-J POSITIONS

On March 8, 1996, Forces of the National Patriotic Front of
Liberia (NPFL) launched an attack on positions of ULIMO-J in
Kakata, Bong Mines and Todee, over running those positions.
Rumors abound of NPFL planned advance on Monrovia

All of these are in contravention of the Abuja Peace Agreement
which stipulates that all warring factions must maintain their
respective positions as of the signing of the Abuja Agreement
and cease all aggressions on other factions. ...

THE BOMI FIGHTING

The JPC also condemns the attack on Tubmanburg and other
places in Bomi and Lower Lofa Counties and calls on the
aggressors said to be ULIMO-K forces, to cease their
aggression as this is a gross violation of the Abuja Peace
Agreement. We are very concerned about the loss of lives as a
result of these fightings and hold responsible the attackers
and all others committing atrocities for those heinous crimes
against the people. Faction Leaders and their fighters are
under oath to abide by the terms and dictates of the Abuja
Peace Agreement to which they affixed their signatures.

It is only ECOMOG which has been given enforcement powers
under the Abuja Peace Agreement, Section G. Article 8, 3 which
clearly stipulates that "Should the violating party not take
the required corrective measures, the ECOMOG shall thereupon
resort to the use of its peace enforcement powers against the
violator." No faction or group of factions therefore have the
authority to force other factions into compliance. The
tendency is to produce more chaos and prolong our bloodbath.
...

The JPC is disturbed over the recent shooting incidents which
took place in Monrovia on March 20, 1996, involving troops
loyal to Gen. Roosevelt Johnson and those of Gen. Armah Youlo,
all of ULIM0-J, as well as the fracas which took place at the
James Spriggs Payne Airport on the same day involving forces
of the Liberia Peace Council and those of the NPFL. These two
events, coupled with other maneuvers, undermine the Peace and
stability of Monrovia, under cuts its security as a safe
haven, jeopardizes the lives of thousands of civilians who,
running away from the terror of the factional enclaves, have
sought refuge in the safe haven of Monrovia. Simply put, they
endanger the entire peace process.

We strongly condemn acts of banditry and lawlessness exhibited
in recent times by ULIM0-J forces. Attempts on the lives of
one another by ULIM0-J forces holding loyalty to either Gen.
Johnson or Gen. Karyee pose a major security problem to
Monrovia and its citizens. We are especially concerned and
condemn the killing of Dweh Bawoh as a result of the Sinkor
shooting incident involving the two splinter groups of ULIM0-J
and call on the two groups to desist immediately from these
brutal and barbaric acts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, tensions are running too high and there
is a need to have them cooled as such flare of tension has the
potential to derail the peace process.

THE GEN. JOHNSON ARREST ORDER

In response to the Sinkor shooting incident and the killing of
Dweh Bawoh, the Council of State, on March 20, 1996, issued
arrest orders on Gen. Johnson on charges of murder. The
decision of the Council of State to have Gen. Roosevelt
Johnson arrested for murder, if it is an honest recognition of
the fact that banditry must be stopped and justice meted out
to perpetrators of such dastardly acts, then it is welcome, as
that should mark the beginning of the prosecution of those who
have either directly or supervised war machines or directly
participated in the scores of murders and other heinous crimes
committed against the Liberian people since the genesis of our
conflict. Selective justice, on the other hand, is counter
productive to our search for peace in our beloved motherland.
In fact it is not justice.

We therefore urge members of the Council of State and the
entire LNTG to rise above factional politics and dedicate
themselves to the honest resolution of the Liberian conflict.
Let the fact that the various factional leaders have agreed to
come together in a government of accommodation be enough
reason to stop their undercutting of one another, stop the
display of naked power and work together as compatriots in the
search for peace and a better way of life for our people. Our
country and people deserve peace, a better way of life and
democracy.

Against this background, we support the call of the InterFaith
Mediation Committee that a National Commission on Inquiry be
constituted to probe the present incident involving Gen.
Johnson of ULIMO-J and all other past, present and future acts
of similar nature and character; and the alleged perpetrators
brought to justice.

...

THE PEACE PROCESS

The Peace Process in Liberia has once more come to a
painstaking halt, despite the promises by the factional
leaders that once they took over political power they would
disarm their fighters.

Six months have come and gone since the much acclaimed Abuja
Peace Agreement was signed; six months have come and gone
since the seating of the faction composed government; six
months have come and gone since the factional leaders' promise
to the Liberian people that the carnage was over and peace
would be restored.

After these six months, our children, our mothers and fathers,
brothers and sisters continue to be killed and subjected to
terror and excruciating suffering. After these six months the
war continues unabated, ravaging the nation, and spilling the
blood of the people.

Our leaders have not seen the need to ceasefire and stop all
hostilities, to disengage their troops and to encamp them in
preparation for disarmament. While they continue to kill,
maim, loot and destroy, while they continue to use children
into their fighting forces, they pass around Monrovia talking
rhetoric of their commitment to peace, to the rights and
welfare of children, etc. These are but empty and meaningless
statements until they are buttressed by actions to disarm the
children, take them to safety and create the enabling
environment for them to go to school, to get health care and
then to end the war so that they can live in peace.

We have information of rape, looting and restrained freedom of
movement and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatments meted
out against civilians in all parts of the Country. In Cape
Mount and other areas, ULIM0-K and ULIM0-J atrocities, in the
Central Region NPFL rages, in the Southeastern - LPC
continues.

...

DISARMAMENT

Our beloved Country Liberia, this beautiful Nation which once
served as a citadel of peace and an exemplary beacon of hope
for troubled Africa and a safe haven for our African brothers
and sisters fleeing persecution, has now become a nation of
arms and of might. The guns now rule and ruin this nation

The biggest gun dictates the course of our lives and our
destiny. Despite a peace agreement signed four months ago in
which the warlords were given political power in exchange for
disarmament they have refused point blank to disarm their
fighters.

Instead of the cessation of fighting, they continue to beat
drums of war, ordering fighters to battle on a daily basis.
Instead of disengaging and encamping their troops, they
continue to strengthen them. Instead of disarming and
demobilizing, they continue to amass weapons, build new war
machines and build new armies, they continue to erect check
points and take up new positions, they continue to terrorize,
maim and kill innocent and defenseless civilians and snatch
away their meager food items.

Yet the factions continue to argue that they can not cease
fire, disengage and disarm their forces because ECOMOG lacks
the logistics promised by the International Community. But
this argument is mute and is only a reckless attempt to evade
the issue.

ECOMOG does not need to be deployed before a ceasefire can be
effected, before disengagement of troops and before reduction
in the number of checkpoints.  ECOMOG does not need to be
deployed before fighters stop harassing, torturing and
obstructing free movement and free speech and raping our
people etc. The inability of the factions to disarm, can only
be interpreted as a gross lack of commitment and political
will to implement the Abuja Accord.

...

PEOPLE'S PARTICIPATION

Finally, we want to admonish all Liberians to realize that the
scope of People's Power is an unbridled force of change in
political history.

Now is the time to face the issues and chart a destiny for our
country. The present situation concerns our survival and that
of our native land. Our factional leaders have sufficiently
proven their lack of commitment to give ss peace. Our friends
in the outside World can only help us but they have repeatedly
said that the problem is ours and it is us who must solve it.

The present Transitional Government and the Factions that it
represent lack the will power and the commitment to effect
disarmament and to address the many problems which confront us
as a result of this protracted and brutal civil war they
unleashed on the people. They have failed to deliver the
goods. They have failed to honor their bargain of the social
contract entered into with the Liberian people, the ECOWAS
sub-region and the rest of the interested International
Community. The moral and legal authority of the LNTG-lI to
continue to govern appear to have collapsed. With just four
months left within the twelve month tenure of the LNTG-II the
government has failed to carry out its mandate of disarming,
organizing elections and repatriation of our refugee brothers
and sisters.

We are also concerned that the peace and security of the safe
haven of Monrovia is being eroded and this City saturated with
the jungle justice characteristic of the factional enclaves.

In view of all these, we call on the Council of State to
immediately restore the sanctity of the Abuja Accord.

We call on ECOWAS, ECOMOG and the International Community to
continue to persevere in their assistance and support to us as
there are those of our kinsmen bent on inducing frustration
and undermining the sustained efforts thus far. But you must
hold faith and act because of the suffering civilian
population. They depend upon you.

We call on the International Community to commence a process
of gradual isolation of this government until some degree of
commitment is demonstrated towards the peace process. They
should not continue to enjoy the friendship of the civilized
world while they continue to abuse the tenets of civilization,
by killing, and disrespecting the wishes, and aspirations and
rights of their people.

We also request the United States Government to renew its
policy of denying visa and entry opportunities into the United
States to obstructionists in our peace process. We hope that
other civilized nations of the world will follow suit.

We also call on the ECOWAS authorities to urgently convene a
meeting on Liberia in view of the deteriorating crisis
situation. At this meeting, ECOWAS should set out what their
approach will be when the factions refuse to implement the
process. Some decisive actions need to be taken.

We call on the ECOMOG Peace Keepers to be decisive in
enforcing compliance of the factions in healing ceasefire
violations so as to save the Liberian Peace Process to which
they have committed so much in human and material terms from
collapse.

Signed:

Samuel K. Woods, II Director

************************************************************
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Washington Office on Africa (WOA), a not-for-profit church,
trade union and  civil rights group supported organization
that works with Congress on Africa-related legislation. WOA's
educational affiliate is the Africa Policy Information Center
(APIC).

************************************************************

URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs96/lib9604.2.php