Monday, April 07, 2003

WEST AFRICA'S SADDAM
Part of this blog's mission is to give out information about and comment on stuff that is happening is regions of the world poorly covered (or not at all) by the North American and European medias. Places that are off the beaten path, if you will. It's based on the premise that you can't form an opinion about something that you don't even know is occurring.

In that spirit, below is an article about the destabilizing activities of Liberian warlord/dictator Charles Taylor by the British non-governmental organization (NGO) Global Witness.

This is a sensitive subject to me because one of the countries Taylor wishes to destabilize is the Republic of Guinea, a place where I lived for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. I lived there during the worst period of Liberia's own civil war, a war where Taylor's troops (many of them child soldiers) committed most of the worst atrocities. He's already supported the limb-hacking Revolutionary United Front rebels which destroyed Sierra Leone and he's accused of back the rebels now in control of much of Ivory Coast. He's already destabilized two of Liberia's three neighbors. Guinea's next on the list.

Here's hoping the Hague can make room in Milosevic's cell for Taylor.

Source: UN Integrated Regional Information Network via AllAfrica.com


Global Witness Accuses Liberia of Destabilising Neighbours

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
NEWS
April 1, 2003
Posted to the web April 1, 2003
Abidjan
An international non-governmental organisation (NGO) has accused Liberia's government of destabilising West Africa by supporting and arming rebels in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone. In a report issued on Monday, Global Witness also accused the government of Liberian President Charles Taylor of regularly importing weapons in violation of UN sanctions.
The report, titled: 'The Usual Suspects: Liberia's Weapons and Mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone' charges that Liberia's government has been backing two rebel groups that operate in the west of Cote d'Ivoire since late November 2002: the Popular Movement of the Ivorian Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP). Liberia, it added, planned to use mercenaries to destabilise Sierra Leone.
Global Witness urged the UN Security Council to renew existing sanctions against Liberia - which cover the sale of weapons to Monrovia and trade in its diamonds - and to extend them to include Liberian timber. The timber industry, it said, continued to be the Liberian government's primary source of financial and logistical access to international markets for weapons and mercenaries.
"We have uncovered information showing the Liberian government is still actively involved in the illegal arms trade, and is the driving force behind the training, arming and deployment of the Ivorian rebel groups MPIGO and MJP, with Liberian President Charles Taylor calling the shots from Monrovia," said Alice Blondel, a Global Witness campaigner. "The 'usual suspects', including President Charles Taylor and former RUF commander Sam 'Maskita' Bockarie, who have been involved in previous regional insecurities, are now involved in the Cote d'Ivoire crisis and are planning to undermine the fragile peace in Sierra Leone".
According to the report, the Liberian timber industry provided the government with the means necessary to maintain its supplies of fighting forces and illegal arms, which, Global Witness said, it receives from eastern Europe via France, Libya and Nigeria.
Cote d'Ivoire's MPIGO and MJP rebels, the NGO said, were made up mainly of Liberian and Sierra Leonean mercenaries. It added that the MPIGO and MJP fighters were organised in Liberia before deployment into Cote d'Ivoire, and were commanded by close associates of Taylor.
And in Sierra Leone, Liberia's government is now implementing a destabilisation strategy so as to disrupt the operations of the Special Court, "by which President Charles Taylor and other key figures in Liberia expect to be indicted for war crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war", the NGO said.
Global Witness is an NGO that works to expose the link between natural resource exploitation and human rights abuses. It operates in areas where environmentally destructive trade is funding conflict or human rights violations.
[The report can be found at http://www.globalwitness.org/reports ]

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