A new report calls Liberia a “wellspring for continued conflict stretching across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.” The report comes from the Brussels-based think tank the International Crisis Group. It says given the regional ambitions of President Charles Taylor, the hard-won peace process in Sierra Leone remains in jeopardy.
The ICP says while the armies of the three Mano River Union countries have largely remained within their borders, “militias such as the Revolutionary United front (RUF) – effectively Mr. Tarylor’s foreign legion – the Sierra Leonean Kamajor ‘hunter’ militias and Liberian dissidents have battled with little regard for national borders.” The ICP says President Taylor, with Libyan support, continues “to push a grand scheme of political change in West Africa.” It says his rule has fueled regional instability.
The group’s report recommends that the United States, Nigeria, Britain and France form a contact group to align their positions on Liberia. It says they should pressure the rebel LURD, Guinea and the Liberian Government to negotiate a ceasefire and begin peace negotiations. It also recommends institutional reform, including the military and police.
The International Crisis Group says if President Taylor does not meet these conditions for holding free and fair elections by the end of his term, the international community should push for an impartial interim government. Comfort Ero, the ICP’s project manager in Sierra Leone, spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the new report on Liberia.