Taylor, Conte and Conneh

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule

The Perspective

February 27, 2002

So, after almost a year, with no friend in the entire sub-region, Mr. Taylor finally got someone to listen to his cries and convene a meeting with Conte. Every West African capital - save a few - has had its share of Liberian peace talks. It started in Banjul. Then Lomé. From there, we went to Bamako. The Malian capital led us to Yamoussoukro, four times. From Yamoussoukro we went to Dakar. From Dakar, we moved to Geneva where Taylor told Houphouet that he only needed a symbolic presence of troops from other countries to disarm. From Geneva, we went to Dakar. Back to Geneva and to Cotonou where we all sang the National Anthem, with tears, after Alhaji Kromah and Enoch Dogolea joined Amos Sawyer to sign the end of IGNU and the beginning of another round.

The peace accord signed in Cotonou actually put in place what Taylor had asked for in Banjul, that was a triumvirate, with warring factions. By this time, because of the Black Beret, the UN had reduced IGNU into another faction. So it was NPFL, ULIMO and IGNU/AFL. But that was not the end. After Cotonou, we went to Akassambo, in Ghana and move to the capital. And then we went to Abuja. In between, there were ECOWAS meetings, OAU Summits where the Liberian war was always a great topic. Cairo, Tunis, Dakar, Addis, capital after capital, there was no peace and there still is no peace. Would the death of Savimbi and the trial of Foday Sankoh change anything in the behavior of the man who called himself "the most mischievous person in the country?"

Now we are in Morocco. Not with Liberians but our neighbors - Sierra Leone and Guinea, because we could not keep our war to ourselves and because our president has never been able to keep his words. He would meet Conte, will probably kiss the feet of Mohamed VI and will roll in the dust and cry for help and sympathy. Conte will look at him with disdain and wonder how any man can fall so low. How can one man cause so much pain to so many people.

On the Guinean website (Boubah_Guinéenews.com), Conte had said that there was no agenda about a meeting in Rabat. Rabat is like a second home to him. This is where he goes and this is where Sekou Toure was buried before his body was returned to Guinea. He knows that Taylor will not keep his words. He would go, out of respect for Mohamed VI, with the full knowledge that after the meeting, he would have to keep fighting. His words in Dakar still ring in many ears. It was in 1992, at the ECOWAS Summit. He said, "Charles Taylor is like a cancer... unless we take it out and destroy it, he will inflame the entire sub-region and ten years from now, we will be back here..." Can Taylor ever prove him wrong?

Another article on the same website was titled: "Taylor threatens to extend his war to Guinea." This came out of a Chinese press quoted in a Lagos newspaper. The paper went on to say that Taylor says that unless Guinea stopped its support for rebels, Guineans will pay a heavy price. The article goes on to say that Conte has always refused to meet with Taylor.

The third article was most intertaining in its own right. It also dealt with Taylor. It was titled "A choice between the suitcase and the coffin." It was an interview of General Prince Seo conducted by a journalist of the Conakry newspaper "La Nouvelle Tribune." The interview is said to have taken place in Voinjama, according to the Guineénews reporter Boubakar Diallo in Conakry. General Prince Seo is Chief of Staff of LURD, according to the article. I will simply put the answer here for the appreciation of our readers. The translation is all mine, from French:

"I want to tell you, from here, in Voinjama, that before the end of the month, Taylor will be left with only two choices: to pack all his stolen money in a suitcase and head out of the country or be in a coffin. Our leader, the future president of Liberia, Dr. Sekou Damate Conneh, will soon be in the presidential chair in Monrovia.

"The creation of LURD was provoked by the bad politics of Charles Taylor. Taylor is a drug addict, a bloodthirsty dictator. LURD was created clandestinely in Monrovia, because of the anger of Liberian people.

"Our president, Sekou Damate Conneh, just like myself and other leaders of LURD are Liberians and we have nothing to do with Guinea. We were all born and raised in Liberia. Our president was born in 1960 in Gbarnga and has doctorate in public finances. He was treasurer in Bentol. Since 1992, he has been involved in import-export business but he had to give up his business because of the many arrests. He now lives in Klay.

"Support from Guinea? That's his [Taylor's] problem. We have no help from outside and our aim is to chase him out from power. We would be happy if countries like the USA could provide some kind of help. We have no contact with the outside world."

Now, we all know where we are headed. After Dr. Doe, Dr. Taylor, we will have Dr. Conneh. God Bless Liberia!

Meanwhile, the peace process is taking the turn Taylor has been planning. The Secretary General of the OAU has dispatched the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Gambia to go to Monrovia to evaluate the situation. Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chamber will also be on his way to Monrovia, to ask Taylor to attend a meeting in Abuja. The UN Secretary General is "preoccupied" by the humanitarian crisis and there is a possibility of a new UN Mission in Liberia. So, the Sawmill crisis paid off, in the final analysis. The meeting in Abuja between Liberian politicians and Taylor and Obasanjo will be the icing on the cake. After that, only God could stop Taylor from winning the 2003 elections.

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