Liberian Democratic Future Examines Current National Issues - A Commentary

In our determined efforts to provide you, our readers, with the most reliable, up-to-date information on Liberia, The Liberian Democratic Future shall from time to time look at issues of national importance through its newsmagazine, The Perspective. This kind of commentary is designed to give you informed analysis of the inner workings of the Taylor regime, the underlined rationale which drives its decision-making process, and the political, economic and security ramifications of government policies. This analysis is based on reliable source information, which is not necessarily available in the public domain, and as such, is not yet known to the general public.

According to highly reliable sources, here is a detailed review of developments in Liberia over the past few months, and the likely consequences that could affect Liberians and their country emerging from the horror of a devastating civil war.

Liberia faces difficult time

The country is struggling with a variety of major difficulties as it takes its first steps as a newly democratic nation. These difficulties are both internal and external. The new government, according to various knowledgeable sources, lacking coordination, is unable to identify its priorities; should it succeed in doing so, it does not have the necessary means to reach them.

Internal Political Difficulties

Several problem areas became clear after the formation of the first democratic, post civil war government, which placed few opposition personalities into positions of responsibility. Despite pre-election promises of a government of unity, President Taylor chose to surround himself with elements of his National Patriotic Party (NPP), a replica of the former rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the zealous behavior of which was often found encumbering.

An invisible stranglehold is gripping those who were yesterday's enemies. The regime already seems to be immersed in settling scores and conducting witch hunts. This frightening throwback to Liberia's dictatorial past is resulting to the departure from the country of most of the political leaders. Meanwhile, uncertainty and fear haunt the general population. Kidnappings, mysterious disappearances of individuals, police brutality have become the daily lot of the Liberia population. These dramatic episodes reached their peak with the arrest at a police roadblock of Samuel Dokie and his family. Dokie, a renegade Taylor's loyalist and his party were savagely killed, and their mutilated, burned bodies found in a suburb of Gbarnga, Bong County.

This callous assassination has heightened tensions throughout the country and has polarized public opinion about the government's involvement in Dokie's death. The violence has mobilized human rights groups, political parties, and civilian society supported by the international community, all of which demand that the government investigate fully the causes of Dokie's death. Mr. Taylor promised to bring order to his administration and to bring the guilty to justice. The trial is now going on in Gbarnga. No one is fooled, however, since the Ministry of Justice refuses to arrest and indict the principal suspect, Special Security Service Director Benjamin Yeaten.

According to information circulating in knowledgeable Liberian circles in Monrovia, when Taylor returned from Morocco, on Nov. 29, 1997, it is alleged that he drove up to Gbarnga and personally confronted Dokie, accusing him of disloyalty, both in being responsible for the fall of Gbarnga in 1994 and plotting to overthrow his legitimate government today. Before leaving, Taylor then reportedly gave the signal to Colonel Benjamin Yeaten and others believed to be associated with Vice President Dogolea to torture and kill Dokie. According to these sources, Dokie was not actually killed until Monday, December 1, when Taylor made a one-day working trip to Conakry, Guinea.

Taylor Expresses Concerns For Personal Safety

In early January 1998, President Taylor privately expressed concern for his life, according to a close social intimate of the Liberian leader. Taylor said he knew there are people "out there" who would kill him, including foreign governments. He implied that a foreign power intended to go through a Liberian to have him killed and stated that he intended to contact Israel or another government to train his private security force for added protection.

According to this source, Taylor intimated that his government was experiencing difficulty in obtaining developmental aid, since the United States did not approve of his election as president of Liberia. He indicated that since Washington was squeezing him and refusing to grant developmental aid, no other western country would provide aid. Taylor also intimated that he would make further cabinet changes in order to improve the international outlook of his administration. Those cabinet members likely to be axed are Lands and Mines Minister Jenkins Dunbar and Minister of Labor Tom Woewiyu. Their likely replacements: businessman Dew Mayson and economic and financial adviser Emmanuel Shaw, who is involved in a drug-tainted investigation in South Africa.

Other Issues of Concern

Meanwhile, there appears to be a strain in relations between Taylor and Maritime Commissioner Benoni Urey. According to various sources, instead of personally attending the annual maritime organization meeting in London last October, Urey sent his deputy, Christian Herbert. At that meeting, Herbert read a speech prepared by Urey, which called for Liberia to collect more revenue in exchange for the use of Liberian flag on a vessel. This frightened ship owners, and Taylor was afraid ship owners might relinquish the Liberian flag altogether, causing the country to lose a dependable source of revenue.

The Perspective has also learned that Taylor had asked Urey for some of 10 percent money set aside about ($1.2 million U.S.) to buy something for himself, Urey said he did not have any money in the fund at that time. But Urey had just purchased a house, which was being renovated. Taylor questioned where Urey got the money for this purchase.

In another matter, Taylor continues to beef up his security apparatus. With the U.S. and European Union opposed to giving assistance to the Liberian National Police, as long as Tate is director, Taylor has decided to seek assistance from Libya, Morocco, Taiwan and perhaps South Africa. But so far, the result is mixed. However, there is plan afoot to use a Hackensack, NJ firm which would contract Israel trainers to turn elite members of the SSS into a 500-man executive protective force. It would cost $11.2 million U. S. dollars.

In an effort to divert attention for the regime's dismal performance, Taylor and his minions plan to stage fake coup attempts in order to justify a clamp down against, and elimination of, major Krahn and Mandingo leaders. Thus the disinformation that has been circulating for some time that former warlord Alhaji Kromah has been training fighters in Guinea to overthrow Taylor. And in this connection, the recent accusations made by Taylor that former warlord and cabinet minister, Gen. Roosevelt Johnson, was engaged in activities designed to undermine his government. This charge prompted Johnson to say that he knew effort was being made to kill him by associating him with coup plots.

Family and Associates Voiced Concern

Not long ago, members of Taylor's family and select government officials expressed their desire to confront the president about his leadership. The Perspective has learned that the group was to include Taylor's mother, two sisters, his brother, Urey, and others. They had planned to tell Mr. Taylor to change his leadership style for the good of the country. They said Liberia has become a virtual police state; people were disappearing and being beaten; and that Taylor was relying too heavily on Sen. Grace Minor for advice. The attendees hoped, we have learned, to tell Taylor that the only functioning ministry in Liberia was the Ministry of Finance.

Also, this close relations were to inform him that the populace was under the impression that Taylor had his hand in every business in Liberia, and advise him that the people no longer accept his "sweet talk" about the state of the nation.

Press Under Siege

Over the past few months, the press had been dealt more than its share of the Taylor regime's attempt to silence its opponents. Many journalists had been assaulted, newspapers shut down and radio station closed for their efforts to inform the public. Journalists Alexander Redd and Hassan Bility were the latest assault victims of the Taylor's security forces, for allegedly gathering information critical of the government.

In view of all of this, many Liberian specialists have concluded that Taylor is laying foundation which will be used as a pretext to declare marshal law, suspend the constitution, and rule by decrees. Sadly, Liberia could be headed for yet another reign of terror.