The UN, LURD Taylor and Kaddafi

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 8, 2002

Again, another set of UN findings regarding the sanctions on the government of Liberia is revealed, with a litany of accusations of arms trafficking and diamonds exports. This comes to no one as a surprise. There has never been a shortage of arms in Liberia since the beginning of the war. The fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe has all but created a bonanza market for arms dealers. Most of those countries were armed to the teeth but short on everything else. Anyone who has cash can buy any amount or arms in the world. Mines go for a little as fifty cents a piece in some places and AK-47 are resold in Danane, Cote d'Ivoire for ten dollars.

The surprise, in the recent UN report if there was any, is that arms going to Liberia, both to Taylor and LURD now transit through Guinea. According to Guinea News, business and political leaders close to Lansana Conte have been filling their pockets with Liberian money. On the one hand, these business and political leaders facilitate the transfer of arms through bogus companies – one such company is called Pecos - to Liberians happy to kill one another and on the other hand, they make certificates to export Liberian diamonds, gold and timber. According to the same source, between January and July 2002, 115 such certificates, issued by and through 11 companies with legal standing in Guinea and owned by people close to President Conte, helped to export 352.759 carats of diamonds from Liberia, with a market value of $18, 293, 294.

It was revealed that arms are reaching LURD through air transport. Among the arms reaching Liberia, there was a military helicopter. LURD does not possess a helicopter so it went to the government. Some of the arms originated from the United Arab Emirates and were supposed to have been destroyed by fire in Conakry in 2001. The troubling thing is that the same people are selling arms to both the government and LURD. Some writers who give in to the conspiracy theory - including myself - have at times pointed to the possibility of a linkage between some of the leaders of LURD and the Taylor government. What is certain is that LURD has been exporting commodities from “its” territories and receiving arms and ammunitions in exchange while hundreds of thousands of people from Lofa are thrown out of their lands.

The Taylor connection inside the Conte government and inner circle is an open secret in both Monrovia and Conakry. The situation that occurred again in 1989 in Cote d'Ivoire, with an aging and almost absent president with a corrupt administration, a low-paid and hungry security service is again obtaining in Guinea. What worked for the NPFL in Abidjan in 1989 is now being repeated in Conakry.

LURD is now calling its own "national" conference. This is logical, after Abuja, Bethesda, Ouagadougou and Monrovia, why not a conference in Voinjama, chaired by H. E. Sekou Damate? It would be an interesting development. For the past six months, very little has been heard about LURD, since their PR and military debacles in Kakata and Tubmanburg. One may ask what their new agenda entails for Liberia, as the country moves closer to elections…

According to Elio Comarin, a French Journalist at Radio France International, Colonel Kaddafi is the financier behind the mutineers in Cote d’Ivoire. Elio Comarin says that Kaddafi gave two million dollars to the mutineers and is keeping a close watch on the situation. He is also said to have bought the luxury hotel in Lome where Ivorian delegations are lodged during the negotiations. Finally, Kaddafi and the families of the victims of the Lockerbie plane crash have reached an agreement on a scheduled payment of the $3 billion he accepted to pay for the 300 people who were killed in the crash. He has also accepted to pay compensation for the French nationals who died in another crash in central Africa in 1989. As for the 300 000 Liberian and Sierra Leonean victims of the Kaddafi follies, nobody has anything to say.

The 2003 elections are just 10 months away. Liberians are still facing the same problems they faced five years ago. War, intimidation, human right violations, refugees and IDPs are the most permanent aspects of Liberian life and politics. Exiled politicians are putting together their platforms, mostly in US. Would they ever make it to the streets of Monrovia? The US is now engaging the government of Liberia. This engagement would certainly lead to some kind of compromise, allowing elections to take place, according to a Blamoh Nelson recipe where nobody would try to unseat the President. Compromises would be made and the Liberian government, like the elephant meat it has always been, would be divided among the stakeholders... a ministry here, a senate seat there and so on... And the international elections makers would lick their fingers while Liberians would return to their old ways.

Editor's Note: Few months ago, Dr. Adoulaye Dukule launched The Africa Journal, which is now sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa. Because of his work on The Africa Journal, his writings in these pages will not be as frequent as we at The Perspective and the readers would like for them to be. Dr. Dukule remains the Associate Editor of The Perspective and would bring in his "two cents" in the African debate whenever possible. We wish him the best of luck at The Africa Journal.

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