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Liberia Accused Of Funding Instability In West Africa - 2003-04-08

The government in Liberia has reacted to allegations by the British-based human rights organization, Global Witness, that it has assets worth nearly four billion dollars in Swiss banks. The report accuses Liberian President Charles Taylor o fusing revenue from the timber industry to destabilize the West African region.

The Taylor administration describes the allegations by Global Witness as complete rubbish.The government says the latest allegations by the Group are part of what it calls an evil innternational conspiracy intended suffocate poor countries such as Liberia. Global Witness is also accusing the Taylor government of training and arming mercenaries to destabilize other West African countries such as Ivory, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The group accuses President Taylor of defying United Nations sanctions by publicly declaring it would import arms and ammunition to defeat rebels who’ve intensified their attacks over the last few weeks. The latest rebel activities have rendered some parts of the country ungovernable. There are reports of a total breakdown of law and order in areas where fighting has been taking place.

The government maintains that its decision to import arms from an undisclosed country - despite a UN arms embargo is intended to defend itself under international law.

The government accuses Global Witness of trying to influence pending discussions by the UN on whether the existing sanctions should be extended.

Meanwhile, a key opposition politician is calling for the immediate deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping force for Liberia to end the ongoing fighting between government and rebel forces.

Dr. Togbah-Nah Tipoteh says such a force would stabilize the fragile security environment. He says the government lacks the capacity to expel rebels who’ve been fighting to overthrow the Taylor administration. Dr. Tipoteh, who’s the Standard Bearer of the Liberian People’s Party, rejects attempts by armed groups to take power by force.