October 2, 2003
A friend called me breathlessly to tell me that shooting was going on in Monrovia and that the city was upside down. I called Monrovia to ascertain the facts before making any comment to my friend, whom I promised to call back. My friend had reason to worry, having three children and a spouse stranded in deadly Monrovia and awaiting an improbable visa to come to America.
What I learned was that the leader of LURD was on his way to meet with the president, Mr. Moses Blah and someone started to shoot at his convoy. One person got killed and a few others got injured. The leader of LURD got away. Monrovia was calm and there was no sign that LURD would go on the offensive or try to retaliate.
What was the leader of LURD doing in Monrovia? What was he going to discuss with Moses Blah? How was that going to benefit the peace process?
If Liberians don’t learn from their mistakes, they are bound to repeat them at every step of the way. The worst thing that happened to the peace process was not that ECOMOG was ineffective or that UN did not care or did not have the means to enforce the peace accord. The greatest impediment to the peace process was that warlords, who were enemies at the beginning, found a common ground to loot the nation on the back of poor civilians. The three warlords from ULIMO, NPFL and LPC worked hands in hands to kill Liberians, loot the nation wealth and just vanished. The fact that during the past six years not a single former warlord, all of whom supposedly took up guns to get rid of Taylor, never said a single word in the face of the national suffering is a testimony to that conspiracy.
Nobody in their right mind would rejoice at the prospect of bullets flying again around in Monrovia, putting innocent lives at risk. But in the end, it is better for the peace process that the leader of LURD did not meet the leader of the NPFL.
The only thing Liberia expects from the warlords is to submit to a voluntary and comprehensive disarmament process before they send their representatives to join the new transitional government. Liberia does not need one more conspiracy among chiefs of warring factions. Now that they have received the ultimate prize for their looting and killing, they simply must disarm and give peace a chance. It is time for them to allow the boys and girls who carried them on their backs to return to their parents and schools.
President Moses Blah must be left alone to focus on his transition to civilian life and prepare the grounds for the arrival of the new civilian government. He must do so with a clear mind and absolute understanding that as of 14 October 2003, he would be a former president. As for the leader of LURD, he must just work now to disarm his girls and boys and find a way to make a living, because there is no provision in the constitution for former warlords. Under normal circumstances, he would face a tribunal.
There is nothing for the leader of LURD to discuss with the president. The peace process is now beyond their control. The UN has the mandate to enforce peace and this will be done. The warlords are expected to vacate the scene and disappear in two weeks. Liberians have seen enough warlords plying the roads of Monrovia during the past 14 years. Enough is enough.
Let the leader of LURD return to Tubmanburg and start the disarmament process. That is what is expected of him. Disarmament will take place, either he likes it or nor. He needs not meet Moses Blah, a lame-duck president to do that. Warlords in convoy with armed boys hanging around are a bad memory for Liberians. Let’s close the chapter and move on.