War in Liberia
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However, despite its considerable military and peacekeeping successes, ECOMOG's professionalism and neutrality have consistently been questioned. The force also remains seriously under-resourced, notwithstanding substantial new pledges of international support. Quite frankly, I think the issue of Liberia could have been taken care of a much longer time ago, if we had enjoyed a little bit more assistance from the UN as well as the western community. ECOMOG troops have been heavily involved since the day they arrived in ripping off Liberians, in looting goods, in dealing in contraband.

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ECOMOG peacekeeping has been paralleled and complemented by a vigorous, if sporadic, diplomatic peace process. This process has involved peace talks in several capitals across the region, as well as in Europe. Within and outside Liberia, national conferences have also been convened by Liberian civilian leaders.

These have included Dr. While variously involved in ECOWAS diplomacy, these provisional governments have not been able to exert significant autonomous political authority. On the other hand, the LNTG has not yet been able to function as an effective unified administration.

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These early meetings foundered due to palpable intransigence on the part of the two main parties. Having reduced the writ of the government to the capital alone, a buoyant Taylor was poised to accept a political solution, but demanded as a pre-condition Doe's unconditional resignation.

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Cocooned in the Executive Mansion, Doe for his part refused to step down. This standoff culminated in an NPFL boycott of the talks and an escalation of hostilities. The first and the second of these brought the NPFL back to the negotiating table after periods of absence, while the third established comprehensive modalities for encampment, demobilisation and elections.

The collapse of these early accords is explained largely by the ambivalent commitment to a negotiated solution exhibited by all parties. While a signatory to all the accords, Taylor was not averse to employing the breathing space occasioned by peace negotiations to rearm and relaunch his military operations. The most comprehensive of all the Liberian accords, Cotonou formed the basis for subsequent agreements in Akosombo, Accra and Abuja.

It also set out mechanisms for the encampment, disarmament and demobilisation of combatants, stipulated procedures for conducting general elections and provided for the establishment of the LNTG and an executive Council of State involving representatives of the key factions. Alao, ; Mackinlay and Alao, However, despite the installation of the first LNTG in March , inter- and intra- factional disputes continued concerning the allocation of government posts.

Moreover, despite significant deployment of peace-keepers outside Monrovia, new factions continued to emerge and existing ones continued to defend their territorial and commercial interests. Numerous ceasefire violations ensued, stalling and halting meaningful disarmament. His determination to resolve the conflict gave fresh momentum to the peace process which by then was effectively stalled. Rawlings' initiative soon produced the Akosombo Accord and the Accra Clarification, both of which reaffirmed and developed the principles of the Cotonou Accord, drawing the factions closer to the heart of the LNTG.

The Result of Failed Leadership: The Republic of Liberia

However, the signing of the Akosombo agreement coincided with the convening of the civilian Liberia National Conference LNC which made new proposals for disarmament and the demilitarisation of Liberian politics. The Akosombo and Accra agreements were rejected by the LNC, and by individual religious groups, human rights agencies and political parties. All these groups perceived the agreements as legitimising criminality and effectively partitioning the country between the armed factions.

Regardless of their intended aims, the Akosombo and Accra Accords failed to halt the factional wrangling over government posts, nor did they significantly stem the violence in the provinces. With the help of international non-governmental organisations, Rawlings eventually secured a rapprochement between Taylor and the new Nigerian government of General Sani Abacha.

This helped lay the groundwork for the signing of the Abuja Accord on 19 August One significant departure from previous agreements was that the Abuja Accord brought the leaders of the major warring factions into government as members of the six-man Council of State which headed LNTG II.

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The council, installed on 1st September , was chaired by Professor Wilton Sankawulo, an English literature lecturer from the University of Liberia. Another change from earlier agreements was that the Abuja Accord permitted the leaders of the warring factions to contest the presidential elections scheduled for August Its only condition on presidential candidates was that they resign their LNTG positions three months before standing.

Liberia: What Hope for Peace?

The Abuja Accord raised great hopes in Liberia and its announcement led to wild excitement in the capital. This euphoria was heightened by Taylor's announcement through various local and international media that he was returning from Nigeria to tell his fighters that they should lay down their arms. Taylor himself was greeted by jubilant crowds when, for the first time since the outbreak of the war, he entered Monrovia on 31 August Like previous agreements, however, the Abuja Accord was flawed in its conception.

Pundits in Monrovia expressed alarm that it permitted faction leaders to enter Monrovia with their militias and artillery intact. They also voiced reservations concerning the composition of the Council of State. On the one hand, there was widespread scepticism concerning the authority and political acumen of Sankawulo and Tamba Tailor, both of whom had been appointed under pressure from the NPFL. Considering the idea was to co-opt all leaders with the potential to wreck the peace, the exclusion of ULIMO-J commander Roosevelt Johnson was particularly puzzling.

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In addition, major criticism was also levelled at the broad policy of assigning key executive positions to the various armed factions. This led to appointments to government positions and the public services based on factional and ethnic affiliation, a phenomenon which had fuelled the war in the first place. The local press and religious groups have especially argued that such appointments will serve only the narrow interests of the faction leaders, and not the purposes of national reconciliation. In view of the weaknesses in the Abuja Accord, it is not surprising that fighting erupted, this time in the capital, in April In the months preceding the resumption of hostilities, the Council of State had been deeply divided by differences over interpretations of fundamental issues in the peace process.

In effect, the council had come to be dominated by the faction leaders, with Taylor and Kromah increasingly allied and the former gradually claiming de facto chairmanship. On 29 January , Taylor celebrated his birthday with pomp, pageantry and long speeches. Prior to that, Taylor had cracked down on the independent press and on Krahn dissidents with the help of the NPFL-controlled police force. A glaring omission in most analyses of the Liberian war is the role played by unarmed civic agencies in promoting and critiquing the peace process.

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The focus on factional, state and international actors has led to the marginalisation of these efforts which deserve a place in the history books. This organisation, comprising prominent Christian and Muslim leaders, convened the first consultations between the representatives of Doe, Taylor and the AFL in June Ever since this early involvement, the IFMC has been pivotal in bringing parties together, in organising conferences at home and abroad, and in helping to set agendas for these meetings.

It was also represented in many of the peace negotiations across West Africa and has been a leading critic of the flaws in the accords. In March and February , the IFMC led successful 'sit-home' strikes in protest at agreements they felt rewarded the leaders of warring factions. The second of these led to the formation of the Civic Disarmament Campaign CDC for which the Committee serves as an umbrella organisation for a broad range of civic actors. Some of the fundamental issues of interest to the IFMC remain the polarisation of Liberian society along ethnic lines, the intransigence of warring factions to disarm and the issues of justice and retribution in post-war Liberia.

It continues to play a crucial role in both advocating peace and delivering social services. Among the range of atrocities endured by the Liberian population, women have been the specific target for rape, sexual abuse and harassment. Together with children, they also constitute the bulk of refugees and are overall the greatest losers in the conflict. Women activists coordinated their responses to this suffering through a national organisation, the Liberian Women's Initiative LWI.

The LWI has been instrumental in drawing local and international attention to the plight of women, in organising women's responses to overseas relief, in channeling the views of women to national and international mediators and in representing women in local, national and international peace negotiations.

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In a lot of cases, women have assumed leadership roles demonstrating immense resilience, fortitude and wisdom. This could contribute to an irreversible change in the role and perception of women in Liberian society. Interest groups and local NGOs have also made significant contributions to the search for peace. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, has played a key role in organising a range of professional bodies serving teachers, legal workers, drivers, traders and farmers whose combined efforts were crucial to the organisation of the two 'sit-home' strikes. In daily operations and through delegations at several major conferences, the IGL has identified the demilitarisation of Liberian society as key to conflict resolution and national reconciliation.

It also provides an important model of grassroots democracy which will prove essential in post-war Liberia. Although in existence well before the war, Susukuu has assumed an additional role complementing international efforts at disarmament. It does this by sponsoring ex-combatants for training in schools, colleges and technical institutes.

SELF, for its part, is a local organisation concerned with relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. It was established in September to help ensure an orderly distribution of relief aid from abroad see box.

More recently, its major efforts have been geared towards the organisation and sensitisation of local communities for effective participation in the post-war governance of Liberia. The growth of self-help relief organisations has been one of the more positive phenomena to have emerged through the Liberian war. Specific self-help organisations include;. Under this scheme, devised by local people and supported by UN agencies and international NGOs, over 1, former combatants became involved in activities from road clearing on the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway, agricultural training and production, rubbish collection in Monrovia, education and vocational training.

The majority of projects were small-scale, and implemented by local NGOs and government agencies. All of the projects were run through the provision of food-for-work, which provided an incentive for attendance.

Time in exile

And they always increased before political elections. Johnson was elected and became the first Liberian-born president serving from to He played an international friendly in where his number 14 jersey was retired. Soccer Statistics Foundation. Africa News.

The scheme was discontinued partly due to the failure of the Cotonou Accord which it was supposed to support. SELF was set up in Monrovia during the early part of the war with the express aim of taking responsibility within Liberia for the resolution of problems relating to the conflict.