The United Nimba Citizens' Council (UNICCO) is horrified by attacks on unarmed citizens resulting in deaths and massive destruction in Nimba County at the hands of forces belonging to the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). According to the BBC, these attacks and killings occurred in Graie, Gbanquoi, and other localities in Nimba County over the weekend of October 31, 2003. United Nations Peacekeepers who attempted but failed to land in the affected areas substantiated the BBC report. They also spoke of sighting armed fighters in the streets and billowing smoke.
Recently, amid similar reports of attacks, killings, and mass destruction in Nimba County, the United Nimba Citizens' Council, in a spirit of national reconciliation, resisted calls for retribution. Instead, UNICCO pleaded for calm and called for a rational approach to resolving the problems in Liberia. We strongly urged the government of Liberia, the Liberia United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) to ceasefire and heed the Liberian people's undying quest for peace. Furthermore, we encouraged these warring factions to cooperate with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community to settle the Liberian conflict through negotiations.
Today, we have in place the Akosombo Peace Accord. UNICCO is proud not only to have been a part of the calls for negotiations, but also for standing with the Liberian people on the right side of history. Although LURD and MODEL participated in the peace talks, signed the agreement, and, more importantly, occupy strategic leadership positions in the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), they have, unfortunately, not taken their responsibility to give peace to the Liberian people seriously.
By signing the peace agreement, LURD and MODEL made a commitment to the people of Liberia and the world that they, along with the other signatories, could be entrusted with the security of the state. Beyond commitment, LURD, MODEL, and fighters loyal to Charles G. Taylor were given an opportunity to choose. They had the choice to stand with the Liberian people, irrespective of creed or ethnicity or stand with deposed and disgraced Charles G. Taylor and all that he symbolizes. In the eyes of the world, they decided to stand with the people of Liberia, meaning that they would stop terrorizing them and give their children an opportunity for a normal childhood, something that Liberian children know little, if anything, about.
Unfortunately, LURD and MODEL have miserably failed to uphold their commitment to ensure the security of the nation. Recently, LURD not only threatened the National Transitional Government for rejecting its nominees, but it also prevented humanitarian convoys from traveling to areas under its control. Furthermore, by singling out Nimba County and repeating its atrocious attacks and killings, LURD's Siamese twin, MODEL, once again proved that it is a major contender in wreaking deaths and destruction in Liberia. Indeed, it is as vicious and lethal against defenseless civilians as LURD is. Together, they have abdicated their responsibility under the Ghana Peace Accord to seek the welfare of the Liberian people and further shown how Liberians are between a rock and a hard plate.
For this reason, Liberians cannot and must not leave in the hands of LURD and MODEL the security of the nation. Insecurity in Nimba County is insecurity everywhere in Liberia. There can be no middle ground on the security of the Liberian people. LURD and MODEL will either participate in the National Transitional Government of Liberia and work toward ensuring full security for Liberians irrespective of creed or ethnicity or continue their killings and remain the enemies of the Liberian people.
In the interim, UNICCO will continue to cooperate and work on the side of peace. However, if these killings continue, we may not be able to hold back the rising tide and calls for fighting back among Nimbaians at home and abroad. We certainly do not believe in an eye-for-an-eye. It is the wrong way and the path to total destruction.
In view of this grave situation, we call, first, on Honorable Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, his Special Representative to Liberia, Mr. Jacques Klein, the government of the United States of America, ECOWAS's Chairman, President John Kufour of Ghana, President Olusegon Obasanjo of Nigeria, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and Mr. Charles G. Bryant, Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) to issue LURD and MODEL an ultimatum to vacate Nimba County immediately and to accelerate the disarmament process in the entire country. Furthermore, we urge strong pressure on LURD and MODEL to adhere strictly to the terms of the Akosombo Accord, to avoid further bloodshed in Liberia. Second, we call on all Liberians and all those that have the influence to stop the killings in Nimba County and other parts of Liberia to rise and speak against these killings.
Finally, we appeal to the international community to investigate all hostilities after the signing of the peace accord in Ghana for immediate and appropriate action.
Signed: Quipu Mai Yuan
National Chairperson, United Nimba Citizens' Council of America