Did President Taylor Lie?
December 18, 2000

President Charles Taylor's claims, that an ECOWAS military team investigating Guinea-Liberia border raids has been blamed on Guinea, has been denied by ECOWAS Secretary General Lansana Koyateh.

President Taylor, during a BBC interview, claimed the military observer team has issued a report blaming Guinea for the raids and the insecurity along the border. But the ECOWAS Secretary General whose term was extended, speaking to the BBC, said the body "did not take any position" on the issue. He added that the 15-nation body, which convened to tackle growing regional disintegration, did not say "who is guilty."

The 24th summit however failed to find solutions to the region's growing anarchy and multiplying refugees and displaced people. Nigeria's President Obasanjo, who had earlier promised troops along the Liberian-Guinean border, walked out of the meeting after the late arrival of President Taylor.

Liberian civic groups, in a statement released before the ECOWAS summit, said the Guinean raids are linked to the war in Sierra Leone in which Liberia is heavily implicated. They demanded the expulsion of members of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels from Liberia, other mercenaries and military advisors hired illegally.

Both the US and Britain have blamed President Taylor for escalating wars in West Africa. President Clinton is expected to finalize more sanctions against Liberia for its links with RUF in Sierra Leone before leaving office in January. Travel sanctions on President Taylor, his family and officials have already been applied.

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