Tuesday, 24 June 2003

Monrovia (Fides Service) – The pounding of heavy shelling awoke the capital Monrovia at 530am local time this morning 24 June, local Fides Service sources report, asking to remain unnamed for security reasons. For days Monrovia in the mortal grip has been in the mortal grip of rebels of LURD Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. The same local sources tell Fides that the situation is ever more critical, they say “Food and medicines are running short. Those who can are getting out. Everyone here is waiting for the worst to happen. President Taylor is sending large quantities of arms, fuel and food to his stronghold Banda. He appears to be preparing to fight a decisive battle against his enemies”.
Short lived, the days of hopes for peace after the agreement reached on 17 June in Ghana between representatives of the Liberian government and the rebels (see Fides 18 June 2003). Under the agreement a peace pact was to be signed within 30 days, while President Taylor promised to resign once the peace pact was signed.
“No one here in Liberia was taken in by the promise for a peace pact” say Fides sources. “Taylor has too many interests to defend to hand over power without a struggle. What is more the warrant of arrest issued against him means he cannot leave the country. We knew that sooner or later Taylor would have to render account of his actions, but many hopes that this would be after the transition period. Instead the International Court for crimes in Sierra Leone last month issued a warrant of arrest for Taylor for supporting Sierra Leone rebels. It would appear that the international community is determined to rid itself of Taylor. For years they tolerated his criminal activity: support for rebels in Sierra Leone, trafficking of arms, diamonds and drugs, deforesting in Liberia. But since September 11 things have changed. The United States can no longer tolerate Taylor’s connections with elements of Muslim terrorism. What is more, some of Liberia’s riches, precious timber for example, are almost exhausted. The large trading companies which robbed the country with the complicity of Taylor, have left Liberia and its president to their destiny”.
“It is the neighbour states who are supporting Liberia’s rebel groups – say Fides sources. Beside LURD recently a new group appeared MODEL Movement for Democracy in Liberia. But no one can believe that the rebels are really interested in freedom or justice: they have already sacked villages around Monrovia. In these struggles for power, the losers are always ordinary people.” LM (Fides Service 24/6/2003 EM lines 35 Words: 449)