Alibis for Anarchy

By Tom Kamara

The Perspective
April 4, 2001

West African rulers are intensifying their campaign of giving Taylor a face-lift in killing deserved UN sanctions. They will be converging in Abuja this month to mop out strategies in how to hoodwink the UN to see Charles Taylor as a redeemed man, a self-described "compassionate Christian, father of 7 and grandfather of 3" who recruits tens of thousands of others' children in his marauding rebel army and must now face punishment as like-minded African rulers bark on his behalf.

But it seems Taylor is running out of luck, out of time. If he criminally manipulated the minds of well-intentioned minds like Jimmy Carter yesterday to his enormous political and material benefits, not any more. US Congressman Ed Roye, diagnosing the former warlord, warns that Taylor only uses negotiation and peace treaties to entrap his enemies for destruction. Thus Guinea's President Lansana Conte, has taken the warning seriously, and has indicated he would never meet with Taylor for fruitless peace talks. They met before in meetings that Jesse Jackson arranged, and the end result was the disappearance of Guinean towns, production of limitless refugees and the internally displaced. Conte's position sets the stage for ugly uncertainties in the coming months as anti-Taylor dissidents step-up their armed campaign aimed at toppling the regime buried in self-inflicted internal and external chaos..

In the meantime, Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and their Liberian kingpins are winning and attracting new crusaders for their cause even if the rest of the world sees them as abominable killers and condemned thieves clinging on politics as alibi for economically motivated and beneficial terror. To their backers, these men and women, responsible for reducing their countries to wastelands of misery, are admired "Pan Africanists" victimized by the West, mainly Britain and the United States. If only babies, left with amputated limbs by these "Pan Africanists" had voices to reach these London-based campaigners for horror.

And with less than one month for the UN Security Council to hand down the verdict on whether Mr. Charles Taylor has chosen diamonds over sanctions, Act Two in this tragic comedy is in full swing as West African rulers piece together another set of alibis to save their comrade. With the UN setting-up a monitoring committee to gauge compliance, Taylor has launched a blazing campaign of deception, dominated by letter writings portraying himself as a victim of Western conspiracy who has already complied with UN preconditions but will be unjustly punished. Fortunately for the Liberians, with his billions in blood diamond money and from disappearing forests, he can never be short of admirers.

A group called the Pan-African-Association based in Britain, after a recent seminar that proclaimed the RUF and Taylor as true representatives of Pan Africanism, indulged in a ritual through which every rebel representative lined up to condemn Britain's "neo-colonial conspiracy" in Sierra Leone. Among those shinning examples of Pan Africanism in the ritual of condemnations was Charles Taylor's wartime ruthless "First Lady," Ms Agnes Reeves, one who paraded in military uniforms, with her AK-47 swung on her back, determining who lived and who died during Liberia's insane war of horrors. Proud and unremorseful of the trail of terror people like her left behind, Ms. Reeves was one of the keynote speakers on the virtues of "Pan Africanism". Although unnamed, she was the "another speaker who took the view that Britain was trying to destabilise Liberia. The UN report on diamonds was racist and biased in favour of giving control of all the diamonds in West Africa to the diamond monopoly De Beers."

How indeed once redeeming concepts have been grabbed, twisted, and bastardised by Africa's new and most debased colonialists, individuals who, for their personal economic agenda, "colonise" children, rob them of their innocence, drug them, and unleash them on society to fight wars they do not, cannot understand.

As her rebels consolidated their grip on the country, Ms. Reeves was second only to Taylor and third only to God in giving and taking life. Upon entering Liberia via Cote D'Ivoire, she invaded the Gbarnga compounds of the country's Anglican Bishop, forcibly occupying it at gunpoint. She was the all-powerful, all-influential rebel "First Lady" who lorded over a defenceless and defeated people. Those who met this now proclaimed "Pan Africanist" remember the gold dangling on her neck, chest, ears, fingers and hands as she administered her brand of "justice". After implanting poverty, fertilising ignorance in an already backward society, she opted, according to sources, to sit before university lecturers (for enlightenment) of the very country she condemns for "neocolonialism and racism" as a student. She now lives in the comfort of London, as abandoned child soldiers, her gallant soldiers of yesterday and victims of today, roamed without a future, without hope, without parents. May the souls of Africa's sons and daughters who promoted this unifying now abused concept of Pan Africanism rest in perfect peace and forgive these heretics disfiguring their dream.

From the safety of London, the "Pan Africanists" at the "The Forum" nevertheless reached their verdict, and in a press release gladly distributed by the RUF, they declared that:

"The Forum took the view that Britain's interference in Sierra Leone is an act towards the recolonisation of Sierra Leone with British Government Ministers making pronouncements of what is to happen in Sierra Leone. The Forum called for the oil and economic wealth of Sierra Leone to be used for economic
development to meet the needs of all Sierra Leoneans;

"Another speaker suggested that Britain is responsible for the non-implementation of the Lome Peace Accords and is training a factional army to wage war to recapture the majority of the country under the control of the Revolutionary United Front. The primary purpose is to gain control of the oil and diamond wealth of Sierra Leone. However, the RUF, with its policy of Arms, Power and Wealth to the People, is in such a powerful military position that it could not be defeated militarily. Sierra Leoneans must not go back to war to kill each other for Britain's economic benefit. Rather, they must talk to each other so that all Sierra Leoneans can benefit from the oil and diamond wealth of the country".

Indeed! "Arms, Power and Wealth to the people," people such as Taylor, his South African Neo-Nazis, European criminals, among many others who have benefited from diamonds mined by child soldiers and forced labourers, the "people" to whom RUF power belongs. But the truth is that since the conscientious world began to scrutiny their diamond smuggling, Sierra Leone's official diamond intake has risen from US$1.5 in 1999 to US10m. in 2000. This has brought the US dollar down against the local currency the Leone. When Sankoh's home was ransacked by angry protesters in 1999, documents found in his house listed his diamond earnings to over US$10m. The documents also linked him extensively to Taylor in the business. Here goes "wealth to the people."

The misinformation circulated by our "Pan Africanists", carved to appeal to African sentiments, is nothing more than a contest between facts and delusions. In fairness, are these individuals equating Pan criminality with Pan Africanism? Would they perhaps find it unconscionable equating Neo-Nazis, South American death squad leaders, crooked and dishonourable Europeans at home in Monrovia and roaming West Africa in search of wealth, depleting forests, "colonizing" drugged children to dig their diamonds, as champions of their illusionary Pan Africanism? But it may not be the act of not knowing. It may all be the act of buying friends to promote a doomed and bloody cause. And just as members of the Forum were indicting others and vindicating their heroes such Taylor and Foday Sankoh, as they did with Idi Amin in years past, Taylor the "Pan Africanist champion was issuing new preconditions for peace in Sierra Leone, conditions which indicate he is prepared to formulate ;limitless alibis for his imposed anarchy. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as self-appointed spokesman for the regional organization ECOWAS, he said:

"Liberia's engagement in the Sierra Leonean peace process has been within the framework of an ECOWAS Peace Plan in partnership with the United Nations. The relegation of ECOWAS to a mere source of information and the subsequent call upon the President of Liberia to help ensure that the RUF meet certain objectives are incongruent in that Liberia, a founding member of ECOWAS, may find it difficult to participate in the peace process in Sierra Leone in isolation of a clearly defined and acceptable role for ECOWAS. Hence, despite the Security Council adoption of Resolution 1343, it remains an imperative that a credible partnership between ECOWAS and the United Nations be established". Now embarked on conducting his foreign policy via letter writings to America's political establishment and the UN, Taylor wrote to Annan that:

"I wish to bring to your attention and that of the Security Council my government's dismay at the failure of the Security Council to engage the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a partnership effort to address the concerns of the Council in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. As you are aware, ECOWAS has undertaken peacekeeping initiatives in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea Bissau with the support of the Council. It has further institutionalised this role through a Protocol establishing its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security. Despite ECOWAS request to the Security Council to work with the Liberian Government on the matters raised by the Council, Resolution 1343 relegates ECOWAS merely to a source of information and not as a regional grouping capable of conflict management under a multi-lateral framework."

He said he is concerned because UN preconditions mean that he must find means of disarming his proxy RUF army when it is "UNAMSIL's present inadequate capacity" is to blame. He said it is "would seem highly probable that Liberia could be used as a scapegoat, and blamed for any failures on the part of UNAMSIL. It is therefore essential that the international community appreciates its disengagement policy and not expects that Liberia will act in any contrary manner".

In other words, the man is saying, "I have done my best to meet your demands even if there are no signs that my RUF will disarm. But that's your problem, not mine. I rely on ECOWAS to plead my case and with men like Alpha Omar Konare around listening to the leader of Great Arab Socialist Jamahiriya, I rest my case. I have said I have disengaged and this is enough. I have told you that RUF offices are closed down, and its leaders expelled. What more do you want from me? Don't ask me where they are, Sam Bockarie and the rest of the gang. If they are somewhere in the jungles of Liberia operating under cover, come and find them. Where is your evidence? I will continue demanding evidence I believe you cannot produce, and the more evidence you present, the more I deny. I have warned you not to "push me too hard. Don't force me to have to say no to you". I have said a "court order" has been obtained to ensure that RUF bank accounts are closed, although even I know that I, and the RUF, keep no money here in this little unsafe country. What happens if we are run out? Are we that stupid? But where is your evidence against me in all this anyway? Come and find the RUF bank documents. Bring the UN troops to man my airport and borders. At least this will free my hands to deploy my child soldiers elsewhere. I have ordered all my illegal aircrafts down. Again don't bother me with specifics. See what I did to my journalists who reported that not all the criminal aircrafts have been grounded. I charged them with espionage and threw them in jail as I received pleading messages to let them go. I have "placed on the entry into Liberia of all uncertificated (sic) rough diamonds from countries with certification regimes; a ban has also been placed on the export of all rough diamonds from Liberia for a period of 120 days, and pending the establishment of an internationally acceptable and transparent certification regime in Liberia. I have closed my borders with Sierra Leone and that is evidence enough that diamonds no longer leave the forest of that country for Monrovia. I have banned all rough diamonds. I have destroyed all my useless, faulty arms as demanded by the UN, even though I have imported real, more sophisticated ones. Don't ask me how the RUF, landlocked, get their arms and ammunition. Take my word. Now it's left with you to disarm the RUF, if you can. When you fail, don't blame me. With all these remarkable policies in compliance with the UN demands, how can you now impose sanctions? You can't. I have complied! Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Furthermore, the stage for more endless talks is being set. Omrie Golley, RUF operative periodically expelled from the rebel gang, but now back into the rebel fold, insists the Lome Agreement remains the best option for peace even if Koffi Annan thinks otherwise. Meanwhile, Taylor finds more linkages:

"ULIMO is a destabilizing force in the Mano River Union and must be recognized as a threat to the Governments of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone by the Security Council. One group of ULIMO is being recruited, trained and armed in Sierra Leone as members of the Sierra Leonean Army, while another group is being facilitated by the Guinean authorities to effect their objective of ousting the Liberian Government by force of arms".

He repeated his claims that Guinea and Sierra Leone are the real aggressors, not him the victim. The London "Pan Africanists" endorsed his claims, resolving that: "Speakers (rebel representatives) noted that President Lansana Conte was involved in supporting rebellion against the Government of Liberia, that when Charles Taylor took office, he declared Taylor an enemy and, that it was the Guinean President and not the people of Guinea who started the attacks on Liberia. The Forum heard a report on the unjust incarceration of the leaders of the Guinean Peoples Rally and called for their release and a dialogue to promote peace and harmony in Guinea". The "Pan Africanists then indicted the Sierra Leone Government against the rebels: accusing it of accepting "all British Government proposals lock, stock and barrel. He believed the quid pro quo is the mortgage of Sierra Leone's oil and diamonds for British interference. Ninety five percent of the population live as a disadvantaged underclass and this is what is fueling (sic) rebellion".

As in the Liberian war, Taylor said, "We will talk, and talk and talk and talk about the talks. Talks on Sierra Leone have just begun. The Liberian's alibis for regional anarchy keep rolling.

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