Wednesday, 21 January 2004

Monrovia (Fides Service) - “It is the old story of fighting over seats in the unity government”. SMA Father Mauro Armanino told Fides with regard to the news that Mrs Asha Keita-Conneh, wife of Sekou Conneh leader of the main rebel group LURD (United Liberians for Reconciliation and Democracy), recently expelled her husband from the group’s leadership. “Everyone in Liberia, and the international press for that matter, is aware that Sekou Conneh never had much to say as so-called leader of LURD” said Father Armanino, Provincial Superior of the Society for African Missions, adding “Whereas his wife is in direct contact with Lansana Conte President of neighbour Guinea, who backs LURD”. Asha Keita-Conneh is President Conte’s “spiritual guide” and adoptive daughter. Her husband, formerly a second hand car dealer, is said to lack charisma.
“It is difficult to say how this will affect the peace process in Liberia peace process” Father Armanino said. Rumours of a split between the political and military wings of LURD have circulated for some time but the consequences cannot be foreseen. It should be remembered that within the LURD rebel group interests differ. Once the main goal was achieved with the ousting of President Charles Taylor, now in exile in Nigeria, differences among the LURD members began to emerge”.
Yesterday the United Nations programme to disarm militia groups was resumed and deployment of the UN peace keeping mission in Liberia is expected to be completed by March.
“Unfortunately there are reports that many arms have been hidden in Liberia and across the border in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. It will be impossible to solve the Liberian crisis without taking the regional context into account” Father Armanino told Fides. (L.M.) (Fides Service 21/1/2004, lines 28 words 307)