Who Controls Zorzor?
October 11, 2000

Confusion as to who controls Liberia's northern town of Zorzor lingers while over 13,000 displaced people have moved towards Gbarnga, President Taylor's wartime stronghold. A spokesman for the dissident group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), said his forces are firmly in control of the town and its surroundings while the Liberian Government claims flushing out the dissidents.

"Our next move is to move on St. Paul Bridge and storm Gbarnga", LURD spokesman said. The spokesman continued, "we are determined to rid Liberia of the cancer called Taylor. Hundreds of thousands of us are scattered around West Africa and we are tired running. It's time to stand and fight like men. We prefer to die on our soil in dignity than to remain refugees for the rest of our lives Taylor is determined to sell our country, keep us in exile, and get richer in our blood. This will not happen. His days are numbered. He has made Liberia a training camp for all rebels in Africa and brought in all kinds of criminals. We will stop him! We have exercised restraint to protect the civilian population. But our warning to those in Monrovia is to begin considering plans to leave before it is too late. They must not believe Taylor's propaganda machine."

Speaking via telephone interview from West Africa, the LURD spokesman said the towns of Foya, Kolahun near the Sierra Leone border, are also under their control. There is no independent confirmation of the claims. He disputed Taylor's recent claims of capturing arms from the dissidents. "Taylor is relaying on empty propaganda to deceive the Liberian people. Soon the truth will be too clear to hide. Let him continue using Jonathan Paye Layleh, one of his trainees from 1990s. The time will come when Paye Layleh will be useless, " he said.

According to the spokesman, "BBC stringer Paye Layleh reported this week that Government troops have flushed out the dissidents and that they were in firm control of the contested town. But we are in control of the town."

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that Taylor is heavily relaying on fighters from Sierra Leone's rebels, Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and Guinean dissidents in repelling the rebellion. It is alleged that former RUF commander Sam Bockarie, now Taylor's key security operative, has been sent on a recruiting mission in Sierra Leone. The RUF periodically defended the Liberian Government against dissidents. A Government soldier, in an interview with the BBC, recently attributed their alleged gains to the armed incursions into Guinea, which he said had cutoff LURD's alleged supply links. Both Guinea and Liberia have accused each other of backing dissidents.