Former President, Aide Escape Death
November 28, 2000

Liberia's former interim president, Dr. Amos Sawyer and his Executive Director in charge of the Center for Democratic Empowerment narrowly, escaped death on Tuesday after over 100 former fighters loyal to President Charles Taylor attacked their office, according to reports.

The Executive Director, Mr. Commany Wesseh, said "only God" made him survive the attack while conditions under which Dr. Sawyer escaped were unclear. "Let Mr. Taylor come and kill me. All I know is that this country does not belong to one person", Mr. Wesseh, blaming the Government, told the BBC from his hospital bed. He said former fighters loyal to President Taylor stormed his office with knives and other objects. Wesseh, a well-known pro-democracy activist from the 70s and 80s, said the Center's offices were completely looted and the attackers had attempted to kill him. "I don't know from where I gained strength," he said.

This is the second attack on CEDE's offices. Sometime ago, Mr. Wesseh's home was attacked by former NPFL fighters after he questioned their demands for privileges when the rest of society, victim of the war, was in ruins. His wife, journalist Medina Wesseh, escaped a terrible ordeal and fled into exile.

Several critics of the Taylor regime have either been executed, with the Government promising a never carried out investigation. The regime promised to investigate the execution of opposition politician Samuel Dokie, his wife and two family members but failed to do so. Taylor similarly promised to produce the autopsy report in the death of his Vice President, Enoch Dogoleah, but has since failed to do so. The man is believed to have been beaten to death upon the orders of Mr. Taylor. Investigation into the execution of women's activist Nowai Flomo is still pending.

The Center had just held a seminar on the proliferation of small arms into West Africa. Wesseh said at the time of the attacks, he was holding discussions on the structure of local government with a government official who escaped unharmed. "I call on Mr. Taylor to use all his power to investigate" the attacks, Mr. Wesseh said