Beware of them!

By Aagon Gweh Linford

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 20, 2004

The ongoing disarmament and demobilisation process in Liberia, though in its early stages is on even keel. The fighters are in high spirits to turn in their weapons, something all Liberians must be thankful for as the peace holds. The heads of the factions must encourage their fighters throughout this process. Relatives must encourage their children (wards) who are fighters to turn in their guns. Though all may not be well with some of the fighters of the various factions, their willingness to disarm is a significant step towards the peace and stability Liberia needs.

A group of LURD former combatants and their commander, one Colonel Mohammed Jabateh, are complaining that they have been betrayed by their leader, Sekou Conneh. The fighters among other things alleged that Conneh had promised them education and some incentives for fighting to remove Taylor. They feel sidelined by their leader who now enjoys his position in government, while the thousands of young boys and girls, including some elderly people that he trained to kill innocent Liberians now wait to be disarmed. He has failed to make good on his promises…kill and be rewarded. Their only hope is what they will receive as disarmament package.

Like Mr. Conneh and LURD, Mr. Alhaji G.V. Kromah and ULIMO-K promised thousands of young boys and girls drawn mainly from the Mandingo and Lorma tribes similar remuneration were they to fight and win the NPFL and to seize power. Roosevelt Johnson and ULIMO-J used the anti-Krahn sentiment to induced Krahn youths into fighting a battle they knew they would never have won easily, giving the size and military capability of the NPFL at the time. George Boley followed suit and lured thousands young people from the southeastern region into fighting for his LPC. Then came Tom Woewiyu, Lavela Supuwood and the late Samuel Dokie and their CRC/NPFL paying out 100.00 USD bill to young boys and girls to fight their one time partner Taylor.

All of the groups named above were struggling to defeat Taylor’s NPFL. Taylor himself has gained support from the people of Nimba County who were perceived as the common enemies of the Samuel Doe regime, and at the same time the NPFL being the first major warring faction, it had for one reason or the other galvanized support from several thousands fighters who got paid from their loots and spoils of war. The top brides in the NPFL were riding luxurious cars, living in the best of the houses that one could in war-torn Liberia, while the commanders and immediate under men owned fleets of looted cars. The story was the same in the controlled areas of ULIMO-K, ULIMO-J, and LPC. As for the CRC/NPFL, it was short-lived. The vast majority of the fighters, the main killers and tormentors of the various factions could not boast of a pair of shower slippers on their feet at the end of the war. Their leaders have by then transformed into political figures vying for the presidency. At the end of the elections all of the war-lords left the country and the their fighters abandoned.

Then came Sekou Conneh and LURD and MODEL again with promises. What a hard way to learn your lesson from your mistakes! They came with bag full of empty lies. They do not care about what happens to you afterwards, they are only interested in their own welfare. Do not let them give you guns again for empty promises. Value you own lives and those of other Liberians. Do not kill your own people again because somebody promised to give you something he does not own…BEWARE OF THEM!

About the Author: Mr. Aagon Gweh Linford is a Liberian journalist residing and studying in the Royal Kingdom of Norway.