Government Reportedly Incited Ethnic Violence
Oct 26, 2000
Ethnic violence and atrocities that characterized the Liberian civil war have resurfaced with the alleged complicity of President Charles Taylor, according to informed sources in Nimba County, the scene of recent clashes between Mandingoes and Gio-Mano tribesmen.
"There is no way we ordinary people living here with Mandingoes since the war ended could have initiated the killings and burning of their homes. What happened is that over 100 former rebels were sent to Ganta and Saclapea to spark and implement the attacks and killings," said a key opinion leader via a telephone interview from Monrovia who fled the scene.
Several persons have been declared missing or feared death. Former leader of the rebel United Liberation Movement for Democracy (ULIMO-K) Alhaji Kromah, has accused the Government of killing a number of his supporters last year and threatened reprisals. During the recent violence, the President swiftly dismissed minister of Internal Affairs Maxwell Poe who was in Nimba to investigate the killings.
A member of President Taylor's National Patriotic Party and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thomas Nimely, warned Liberians and citizens of Nimba County during the October 7, 2000, ULAA conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, that should the current war enter Nimba County, "not a stick will remain standing."
The ongoing incursion in the country has also divided Liberians mainly in the United States. It is alleged that some Americo-Liberians, descendents of freed slaves who have ruled the country since 1822, celebrated the recapture of the provincial town of Voinjama by Taylor's forces.
"The sad aspect of this instability is that our brothers and sisters from the countryside are dying, not the Americo-Liberians. Their job is to plunder the country for life elsewhere", said an Opposition leader.
Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) killed hundreds of thousands of Mandingoes and Krahns in one of the best-ignored ethnic cleansing in Africa, just as Gio- and Manos- were killed during the reign of the Samuel Doe military junta. Taylor rose on this bandwagon of ethnic mistrust to intensify his war that led to over 250,000 dead and a collapsed economy. The absence of reconciliation has led to insecurity in key areas of Nimba and Lofa counties where Mandingoes live in larger numbers.
Observers believe Taylor's alleged decision to incite Gio-Manos against Mandingoes and other tribes is intended to solidify his grip on the country as he did during the war. Since the death of his Gio-Vice President Enoch Dogolea, there has been unease within the Gio-Mano community. Allegations that his Vice President was killed upon his orders have been strengthened by the president's failure to produce his promised autopsy detailing the causes of death. This incident, along with the NPFL killings of dozens of Nimba and other non-Americo-Liberian political leaders during and after the war, has left the impression that the war was waged for the resurrection of Americo-Liberian rule suspended in 1980 through a military coup. Most prominent actors in Taylor's Government, including himself, in charge of the nerve centers of the economy such as finance and commerce, are Americo-Liberians while African-Liberians have resumed their traditional role as security or menial appendages of the political system.