Threats to International Force do not "Reflect the Known Position of LURD" - Say LURD's Negotiators in Ghana
For Immediate Release
When we signed the June 17, 2003, ceasefire agreement against our own suspicions that are based on the track record of Mr. Charles Taylor, it was a continuous demonstration of our confidence in ECOWAS and the international community with the hope of bringing immediate relief to the suffering Liberian population. Since that time, Liberia has claimed the attention of the world community to the point that prominent members of the United Nations are now showing willingness to help the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stabilize the situation in Liberia.
But it appears that Mr. Taylor is scheming to turn any multi-national stabilizing force into a life-support system toward some deadline that will allow him to claim that his regime did not expire before its time. This may be only a gimmick, but it can be measured in innocent lives of Liberians who are dying while the world waits for Taylor to make up his mind. The thirteen peace accords previously signed and broken by him with impunity and his flip-flopping over the recently signed ceasefire agreement speak for themselves.
Specifically, the idea is being floated that Mr. Moses Blah, Mr. Taylor's vice president, should replace Taylor for the entire interim period during which the pending multi-national force will remain in place in Liberia. We in LURD believe that the final settlement of the Liberian crisis should reflect the wishes of those who fought for a change of political direction, those who are affected by the resulting conflict, and those who are exercising restraint by observing the delicate ceasefire that is currently in place.
Any attempt to preempt the negotiated settlement and the protocols that flow from it will be yet another betrayal of the desire of the Liberian people for peace and security and undermine the integrity of ECOWAS. We will therefore not be a party to it.
The brinkmanship of the Taylor government has not been without odious consequences. Regrettably, this action led to the recent announcement by LURD's "Secretariat" that "… any troop deployed before the departure of Taylor must be prepared for a fire fight." This statement does not, however, reflect the known position of LURD -- which is "a comprehensive negotiated settlement to the Liberian conflict."
It has been the considered opinion of LURD that any arrangement that has the potential of restoring lasting peace to our country must grow out of a political settlement, and not military victory. That is why our forces camped at Poor River, 12 miles from central Monrovia, for practically three months without advancing on the city. Having thus shown our capacity to overrun the city, our hope was that we did not have to show further military supremacy at the expense of innocent lives in the congested city. But in the wake of unwarranted provocation we were constrained to enter the city twice only to be pressured by the international community each time to withdraw.
Now that the international community, through the leadership of the United Nations, ECOWAS and United States, has manifested a clear signal that we believe will lead to permanent peace in our country, we must not allow Mr. Taylor to manipulate the process any further. We particularly congratulate President George W. Bush for the bold step he has taken to put cash value on the fight against aids and disease in Africa and to promote peace and democracy in our country.
Our commitment has always been to do all that lies within our ability to work with ECOWAS and the international community to ensure lasting peace in our country and the sub-region. In this connection, we are now engaged in discussions with all interested parties that will lead to the signing of a comprehensive, negotiated peace accord out of this Accra conference. We therefore believe that anyone genuinely interested in restoring peace to our country should support the process.