Security Continues to Deteriorate in Liberia
Adverse to the application of the democratic principle of free, fair and transparent election, and being hostile to the practical exercise of that principle by the people to choose their own leaders, the Taylor regime is once again using violence to quell the national aspiration.
And one way in which regime is trying to keep itself in power against the popular will of the people is to keep the country in a state of perpetual insecurity. A clear indication that the regime has come to the conclusion that only violence and fraudulent manipulation of the political process is the only way by which it can retain power is by its refusal to allow international stabilization force into the country before, during and after the October 2003 presidential and general elections.
Every reasonable analysis about the situation environment in Liberia, whether by the United Nations Secretary-General's report or the International Contact Group on Liberia, points to the need of an international stabilization force. Besides, there are other obstacles that will have to be overcome if free and fair elections are to be held on time. The regime's promise to create a level playing field for all candidates and other stakeholders is as hollow as Mr. Taylor's shedding crocodile's tears for terrorism.
As the campaign period for those elections draws near, the security situation in Liberia will become more and more precarious, and as the regime desperately tries to hang on to power, it would certainly use more violence to intimidate formidable opposition leaders so as to ward off effective competition. All aspects of the Liberian security apparatus - from the secret police to the various militias - would be unleashed to create fear and terror.
The campaign of terror and intimidation has already begun. In recent weeks, the security forces, including the military, are engaged in what's tantamount to death squad activities.
According to our sources in Monrovia, on Sunday, February 16, Liberians witnessed a horrific example of this lawlessness, as the commander of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) First Infantry Battalion (a former NPFL combatant), Daniel K. Bracewell dragged an AFL soldier, Lieutenant Francis Beyan Sumo from the Ministry of Defense and repeatedly stabbed him to death in the compound of the Ministry in broad daylight.
This savagery took place while onlookers and colleagues of the victim watched helplessly traumatized. So far no official explanation has been given to the Liberian public or whether the military officer involved has been disciplined.
While security in the country is a problem for the general public, the regime is mainly targeting supporters of opposition parties. Not long away, Charles Taylor, Jr., the notorious trigger-happy son of the Liberian dictator, shot and killed police officer Fitzgerald Vampelt allegedly for being a supporter of opposition politician Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The regime's version of the killing was that Col. Vampelt was hit by Chuckie Taylor's vehicle while the victim was standing on the side of the road. Officer Vampelt's traveling companion who was on the advance security detail to Roberts Field in preparation for President Taylor's trip to Togo was coerced to lie. He told police authorities he was asleep when the incident took place.
However, credible sources told our correspondents that Chuckie Taylor shot Police Col. Fitzgerald Vampelt in head.
President Taylor refused to release the body to the family for fear that an autopsy would reveal how officer Van Pelt was killed. Chuckie Taylor was never charged.
Meanwhile, recent reports say there is intense campaign of forced conscription of young males in northern Nimba County near the borders with Guinea and the Ivory Coast.
According to the BBC's Focus On Africa Program monitored by The Perspective, pro-Taylor militiamen were rounding up young men, both students and their teachers, from schools in the Ganta area to be sent to the front to fight the dissident Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
Authorities in Ganta had closed schools in protest to this illegal kidnapping campaign of young boys and their teachers. The Ministry of Defense says it will investigate.
In another development, former Army Chief of Staff General John Tarnue has defected to the rebel. General Tarnue who was held under house arrest for some time before being transferred to the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) a misnomer for All Terrorism Unit, received his military training from United States.
When the BBC contacted the Minister of Defense General Daniel G. Chea, to comment on the general's defection, Gen. Chea said "there is some level of truth" to General Tarnue's defection. But he refused to elaborate.