LURD: Moving at the Speed of Lightning
May 13, 2002
The first part of the year was rocky for the Liberian dissidents group fighting the Mr. Taylor to oust him from power. They got themselves entangled in the Taylor’s game - took claims for every gimmick Mr. Taylor designed just to make the group seem credible. It was a PR disaster of LURD.
Then came the Abuja meeting that LURD did not attend. LURD was to send 6 delegates to the conference, but claimed that they were not represented because there was no advance notice given to them. So like President Taylor, LURD stayed home. But LURD did not miss anything at the meeting because it seems that nothing was achieved. The ECOWAS Secretary General Chambas who was expected to be neutral, spoke like member of Mr. Taylor’s delegation. In fact his pro-Taylor stance was so pronounced to the point that Dr. Amos C. Sawyer had to remind him that he sounded more like Taylor’s "foreign minister."
The worst happened for LURD after the conference - when ECOWAS countries endorsed Mr. Taylor agenda. Instead of maintaining some form of neutrality, ECOWAS slapped LURD with a travel ban just like the UN travel ban imposed on Mr. Taylor and his associates. According to the restriction, LURD officials cannot travel within the West African sub-region. In a release, ECOWAS recently stated:
"At their 25th Summit held in Dakar in December 2001, Heads of State strongly condemned the activities of dissidents in Liberia, particularly LURD and approved the imposition of sanctions against dissidents involved in armed hostilities in the country. Heads of State also requested the Liberian government to provide all necessary information to enable the Council to deal with the matter.
"During the meeting, the Ministers will be briefed by Liberia’s Foreign Minister on LURD and the security situation in the country."
Besides, Guinea is said to have deployed troops along it borders with Liberia and Liberia (at least according to reports) has done likewise. This means that LURD’s members are stranded in Lofa County.
The only room left for LURD is to shoot its way into Monrovia. The organization is now caught between rock and a hard place - it is now life or death situation for the dissidents group. LURD even sees ECOWAS countries as non-neutral parties as it recently made known in one of its letters to Archbishop Francis, Chairman of the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia:
"...Given our distrust of the involvement of some ECOWAS states and their Secretariat in dealing adequately with the Liberian predicament, we find it very difficult to hold meeting in any West African state.”
Within just a matter of few days, LURD claims to have captured Gbarnga, Klay, Tubmanburg, and surrounding areas. As we file this report, LURD’s forces are battling Taylor’s ATU forces in his hometown, Arthington, and are poised to take the war to Taylor’s front door.
According to the Associated Press, "Defense Minister Daniel Chea confirmed Arthington, hometown of President Charles Taylor, came under assault Monday morning, with fighting continuing... The thunder of artillery and mortar on the hilltop town rolled across nearby Monrovia, causing pandemonium. Merchants locked stores to run home, and frantic parents left homes and offices to run in search of children."
LURD has chosen life in this life or death situation!