Confusion Spreads in Liberia as Fighting Intensifies
August 3, 2000

As fighting between his Government troops and rebels in the north of the country intensifies, President Charles Taylor has launched an investigation of his top military brass, accusing them of misleading him about the fighting. He has also accused University professors of backing the rebels.

"There is confusion and suspicion everywhere. It's a witchhunt. Everyone is looking over his/her shoulders. Allegations that the President is stealing Sierra Leone's diamonds and American threat of sanctions have made things worst. We can't sleep", said a key political aide to the President.

A local newspaper reported the arrest of he District Commissioner of Bopolu Lower Lofa County and three members of Mr. Taylor's National Patriotic Party for their alleged complicity in providing support for dissidents.

Loyalists of former armed factions brought into the government are special targets. The Superintendent (Governor) of Grand Gedeh County who once served as a commander of an armed faction was placed under house arrest last week. Troops stormed the University of Liberia last week and arrested student leaders for a statement questioning Government's claims about the war and economic mismanagement in the country. Under gunpoint, the students retracted their statement. There are reports that passports of officials have been seized and that the President's son, Chuckie Taylor, Jr., must approve the departure of any government functionary.

No authentic casualty figures are available, although Mr. Taylor puts the number of government soldiers killed so far as twelve. Despite the fact that hundreds of RUF rebels led by Dennis Superman recently crossed from Sierra Leone into Liberia to beef-up Taylor's forces, Liberian dissidents sources claimed the dissidents have killed hundreds of Taylor's soldiers. The Liberian Government banned independent reporting of the war recently.

Taylor accused Guinea of backing the rebels, but Conakry has rejected the claims, instead describing Taylor as " a war monger" determined to destabilized Guinea. The London-based publication, Africa Confidential, reported last week that the late President Sekou Toure's son, Ahmed Toure, is hatching a plot with the backing of Taylor aimed at toppling the present Guinean Government of President Lansana Conteh.

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