MODEL Captures Maryland, River Gee In Liberia

By D. Emmanuel Mondaye

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 20, 2003

Rebels of the group operating in the southeastern parts of Liberia, Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), has reportedly attacked Maryland County and captured the Administrative seat of Harper City on Monday.

According to a report from the area, the rebels who are reportedly based in the border area near the Ivory Coast, crossed into Maryland County after the group reportedly over ran towns in neighboring River Gee County.

The reports said the attacks by the rebels, have caused frightened civilians to flee Harper, the capital city of Maryland County by way of the Atlantic Ocean, while others are said to be using other alternative routes.

The reports further said that within the last 48hours following the attacks, about 10,000 people have crossed into the Ivory Coast.

According to reports, the UNHCR has cut off a humanitarian flight to Maryland County due to security concern.

Defense Ministry officials in Monrovia, are yet to comment on this latest attack in Maryland, a county that is considered strategic in the exportation of logs.

In a relative development, the leadership of the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), has appointed Mr. T.Q. Harris, a Liberian politician based in the United States as its principal representative to the June 2, scheduled peace talks on Liberia to be held in Accra, Ghana.

The LURD Military high command said, Mr. Harris is prepared to articulate the group's position as it relates to ending the long-running hostilities in the country.

LURD said that it is also prepared to immediately cease-fire but maintained that the NPP-led Government should resign to ensure the seating of a Government of National Unity.

The group also said that it is prepared to cooperate with any cease-fire agreement that will be monitored by International Military Observers in the Country.

Meanwhile, LURD said in order to ensure transparency, it would want the United Nations to conduct the next presidential and legislative elections in the country.

The Liberian government several weeks ago, released the names of prominent supporters of LURD including that of Mr. T.Q. Harris, but Mr. Harris then denied any link with the rebels who are fighting to unseat the constitutionally-elected government of President Charles Taylor.

However, political observers believe that the appointment of Mr. Harris by LURD to represent its interest has confirmed government's claim of his involvement with LURD.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.