Threat to International Force is a Manifestation of LURD's Sheer Greed for Power


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 14, 2003

At a time when the situation in Liberia cries out for international intervention to help stop the killing frenzy and stem the tide of indiscriminate violence, one would think Liberians to the interim governing arrangement negotiations in Ghana would concentrate all their energy on the national interest. But this is not case in Ghana where leading Liberians are gathered to plot the future of the country.

As the day most Liberians have envisaged when they would be free to determine their own destiny appears increasingly likely to be a reality, the day when the people will be empowered to freely choose their own leaders, those who over the years had fraudulently, but piously, mouthed trivialities about the virtues of democracy are now showing their real, sinister motives.

A case in point is the press statement by the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy or LURD in which the group threatens to attack peacekeeping forces if deployed before departure of President Taylor. This is a clear manifestation of real reason that underpinned and promoted the emergence of the rebel movement. And this is sheer greed for power.

Contrary to a litany of argument made in various arenas by different characters as supporters - some with checkered past and complicity in the tragedy - about their commitment to democracy and rule of law, and only if the maniacal dictator Charles Taylor was not in the way, peace would soon return to Liberia in a nick of time. Now that such opportunity may finally be feasible, and Charles Taylor could soon be relegated to the annals of history as one of Africa’s ever growing list of brutal dictators, LURD and its allied purveyor of violence, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, or MODEL, are beginning to issue threats.

But no one should be surprised by the group's recent power politics move. Most Liberians as well as astute Liberia observers knew that these armed groups that had bedeviled the country for these past several years have one and only one objective and that is to seize power.

From all indications, these groups are terrified by sheer mention of free and fair open elections in which the people are not intimidated to decide. They know the only way by which they can achieve power is through violence. All the rhetoric about their commitment to democratic principles is nothing more than mere public posturing designed to take focus away from the atrocities they were committing Liberia. But in reality they loathe genuine democracy in Liberia.

In fact, the groups share equal responsibility with Charles Taylor for Liberia's devastated condition. Both are retreads of the former warring faction United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO), which together with Mr. Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), George Boley's Liberian Peace Council (LPC) and Prince Johnson's Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) bore the greatest responsibility of decimating the country by wreaking inestimable havoc on the Liberian masses for more than seven years before the 1997 elections.

In LURD’s latest statement issued by its so-called secretariat, the group said "A nation is built on three key factors: -the constitution, the mechanics of its operation and the respect it inspires - Taylor has misused and dehumanized the dignity of Liberia - He must therefore leave now and give chance to LURD to restore the downtrodden dignity of Liberians and Liberia in the comity of nations."

We must commend the group for recognizing the key essential factors upon which a stable nation is built. But the totality of its statement attempts to obscure the role the group plays in undermining those key elements of a stable nation. LURD and its ally MODEL are no paragon of virtues in the Liberian predicament. They and Mr. Taylor are equally responsible for Liberia's precarious state and they should not use the current desperate push for a sustainable peace in Liberia to try to absolve themselves of responsibility by portraying themselves as peace-loving, law abiding Liberators. They are not.

The rebel's argument that “He (Taylor) must therefore leave now and give chance to LURD to restore the downtrodden dignity of Liberians and Liberia in the comity of nation” is an affront to our people. Such a statement reverberates echoes of a sentiment expressed by another warlord not long away that he should be allowed to fix the country since was primarily responsible for its destruction. That assertion was made by Charles Taylor during the special elections in 1997 and the rest is history today.

Besides, if we are to stem the cycle of violence in Liberia -and it’s imperative that we must - then it’s crucial that all those who bear the greatest responsibilities of the civil conflict in the country by committing heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity must be brought to justice. That includes key players like Charles Taylor, George Boley, Alhaji G. V. Kromah, Prince Johnson, Roosevelt Johnson and current corps of warlords and their lieutenants.

The best any of these movements, which have used violence as a vehicle to power, can do for Liberia right now is to stop imposing themselves upon the people by force, and allow the seed of genuine democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and freedom of expression to take root in Liberia.

In this regard, we urge all parties to the peace conference in Ghana to put aside parochial interests and put the national interest first and foremost. Our people and the rest of the world are watching to see what kind of future these powerbrokers have in store for Liberia: -peace or chaos?