Ex-combatants Stage Violence Protest On Monrovia-Gbarnga Highway

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 25, 2004

Several ex-combatants from two belligerents groups including former Government of Liberia (GOL) and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) on 22 May went on a rampage in Totota and its environs, on the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway demanding their DDRR benefits.

During the violence action, several commuters who were traveling on the highway and the residents of the area were victimized, as the ex-combatants manhandled and severely flogged the inhabitants of Totota.

According to report from the area, personnel properties of the commuters and the Totota residents were massively looted and forcibly taken away by the ex-combatants who went all out in their violence action.

Several persons sustained injuries at the hands of the aggrieved LURD and former GOL ex-combatants before the Irish UNMIL peacekeepers could arrived at the sense to bring situation under control. Totota is about 60 miles from Monrovia and currently it is hosting over several thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The aggrieved ex-combatants stoned vehicles and homes while fleeing from the area following the intervention of the Irish UNMIL troop dispatched in the Totota area to calm down the violence situation.

Some of the ex-combatants told journalists that their arms and weapons were taken by their commanders and given to individuals who are not fighters to disarm to UNMIL and receive the necessary benefits that they should have received. They indicated that their commanders’ action has deny most of them the opportunity to participate in the on going DDRR program, something they said has the propensity to deny them all the benefits the UN promised to give them upon discharging their fire arms and weapons.

In a related development, the MODEL commander in Nimba County has threatened to re-armed his men if UNMIL again failed to resume the DDRR exercise as scheduled for the ex-combatants in the county.

According to report aired on radio Veritas, a Catholic run radio station in Monrovia, the MODEL Nimba County commander, Gen. Gaye said UNMIL has failed to meet up with the DDRR schedule, while at the same time the high command of MODEL in Monrovia has neglected them. General Gaye told Radio Veritas that his men were surviving on hand-out and lack several essential items including food, wearing and medication.