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ICG_Liberia_theeyeoftheregionalstorm

ICG_Liberia_theeyeoftheregionalstorm

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TACKLING LIBERIA:THE EYE OF THE REGIONAL STORM
30 April 2003Africa Report N°62Freetown/Brussels
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS.................................................iI.
 
INTRODUCTION..........................................................................................................1
 
II.
 
LIBERIA’S WAR...........................................................................................................3
 
A.
 
LURD
 
L
EADERSHIP
S
TRUGGLES
...........................................................................................3
 
B.
 
W
EAKNESSES
O
F
G
OVERNMENT
F
ORCES
...............................................................................6
 
C.
 
T
HE
B
ATTLE
F
OR
M
ONROVIA
?.............................................................................................7
 
III.
 
THE MANO RIVER UNION’S POROUS BORDERS............................................10
 
A.
 
T
HE
O
PEN
S
ECRET
O
F
G
UINEA
S
A
SSISTANCE
................................................................10
 
B.
 
S
IERRA
L
EONE
S
B
ALANCING
A
CT
......................................................................................12
 
IV.
 
THE CÔTE D’IVOIRE CRISIS.................................................................................14
 
A.
 
T
AYLOR
S
I
VORIAN
W
AR
....................................................................................................15
 
B.
 
P
RESIDENT
G
BAGBO
A
ND
A
NTI
-T
AYLOR
F
ORCES
...............................................................20
 
C.
 
L
IBERIANS
V
ERSUS
L
IBERIANS
...........................................................................................24
 
D.
 
M
ERCENARIES
W
ITHOUT
B
ORDERS
....................................................................................25
 
E.
 
T
HE
R
EGIONAL
H
UMANITARIAN
C
RISIS
..............................................................................26
 
V.
 
CONCLUSION: PREVENTING FURTHER REGIONAL CHAOS......................29
 
A.
 
A
 
P
EACE
P
ROCESS
F
OR
L
IBERIA
.........................................................................................30
 
B.
 
A
 
S
ECURITY
S
TRATEGY
F
OR
T
HE
R
EGION
.......................................................................33
 
APPENDICES
A.
 
M
AP OF
L
IBERIA AND
I
VORY
C
OAST
...................................................................................36B.
 
M
AP OF
R
EGIONAL
C
ONFLICT
.............................................................................................37C.
 
G
LOSSARY OF
A
CRONYMS OF
A
RMED
G
ROUPS
...................................................................38D.
 
I
NSURGENCIES
A
ND
T
HEIR
R
EGIONAL
S
UPPORTERS
............................................................40E.
 
A
BOUT THE
I
NTERNATIONAL
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
.......................................................................41F.
 
ICG
 
R
EPORTS AND
B
RIEFINGS
............................................................................................42G.
 
ICG
 
B
OARD
M
EMBERS
.......................................................................................................48
 
 
ICG Africa Report N°62 30 April 2003
TACKLING LIBERIA: THE EYE OF THE REGIONAL STORMEXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
There is a critical need for further internationalaction to end the civil war in Liberia – and to halt thespread of chaos beyond its borders that has bothinflamed the Côte d’Ivoire crisis and threatens widermilitary conflict and humanitarian disaster in muchof West Africa. The key mechanism in this respect isthe International Contact Group on Liberia (hereafterContact Group), established in September 2002. Andthe central players within that body, whosecooperation is essential if effective action is to betaken, are its three permanent members of theSecurity Council: the U.S., UK and France.Liberia’s conflict has continued to spread andconsume its neighbours. The Mano River Union warthat originally encompassed Liberia, Sierra Leoneand Guinea has now expanded east to Côte d’Ivoire.A small area in the western part of that country hasbeen dragged into Liberia’s struggle, much as wasSierra Leone a few years earlier. The Liberiancontenders are using the Ivorian crisis, which brokeout on 19 September 2002, as a proxy battleground.All indications are that no one is in control of thesituation on the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border.Both sides of the Ivorian crisis have used Liberianfighters in their struggle. President Taylorincreasingly employs rebel troops in western Côted’Ivoire, which he treats as a second front against theLiberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) insurgency that threatens his rule. IvorianPresident Laurent Gbagbo is paying and arming justabout anyone to balance Taylor’s support for hisfoes. His largesse enabled the formation of a newLURD faction, which calls itself the Movement forDemocracy in Liberia (MODEL). It is advancingagainst Taylor at the same time as it challenges, forprimacy in the rebellion, both the LURD leadershipbased in Guinea and its military wing fighting onLiberian soil.Western Côte d’Ivoire has become a magnet formercenaries of many nationalities. The failure of the international community to devise a regionaldisarmament program has given the hard-line SierraLeone fighters who fled to Liberia another chanceto sell their skills. While international attention isfocused on Iraq, a regional humanitarian crisis israging throughout Liberia and western Côted’Ivoire. Neither the Ivorian government nor rebelgroups have allowed the UN or other donors accessto assist the tens of thousands of refugees andinternally displaced persons who are trapped bytwo brutal conflicts. The international communitymust act before Liberia’s conflict spreads to otherWest African countries. Sanctions and containmentpolicies have not stopped Charles Taylor fromsupporting rebellions beyond Liberia’s borders.Whether he has grand regional designs or simplycannot control his ill-disciplined forces, he remainsa regional security problem.Neither Taylor nor the LURD is interested in peace,except on each’s own terms, and both have stalledon proposed peace talks. The recent appearance onthe scene of LURD-MODEL has further muddiedthe prospects for peace. Liberia is scheduled to electa new president on 14 October 2003. If PresidentTaylor goes ahead with elections that are deemedunfair, they will perpetuate the status quo. ICG hasconsistently recommended increased internationalpressure for a ceasefire; insistence that Taylor stepdown once his term is over so that an internationallyassisted and perhaps administered interimgovernment can be established; and postponement of the October elections until conditions can beestablished for an open campaign unhindered byviolence and intimidation.The Contact Group has been unable to produce aceasefire. Its diplomatic pressure has, however,

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