Games The International Community Play When
It Concerns Africans!
(A Position Statement Issued by The Liberian Democratic Future, LDF)
A hundred years from now, it will not matter what our bank account was, the type of house we lived in or the kind of clothes we wore. But, the world would be much better because we made the right decision when others procrastinated or were afraid to act. Within this spirit, the officers and members of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF) are troubled by the position taken by the leaders of ECOWAS in the face of the criminal assault by the bandits of the RUF on the fraternal people of Sierra Leone and peacekeepers of the United Nations. Had it been disinterestedness, we would have assumed that it was the consequence of the fatigue from the Liberian failure. However, we are fully aware that this decision came about because the Nigerian military regime of Sani Abacha, disregarded the murder of Nigerian troops and civilians by the thugs of the NPFL and decided to play the game of perpetuating itself in power by compromising with those who had fomented the banditry and carnage in West Africa. Based on this experience, we are concern about the present position of ECOWAS - because there is something sinister in a demand which calls for the lifting of the arms embargo on Liberia whose imposed leader is the chief sponsor of the barbarity in Sierra Leone, a country we share many things in common with. Therefore, we considered this decision and the request by the leadership of ECOWAS that West Africa should assume the command of UNAMSIL appalling and suspicious.
In the first place, the position of the Nigerian government
that it would send additional troops to be an independent entity
but paid for by the United Nations raises some questions. Why
an independent contingent? There are Nigerian troops already serving
under the UN and additional Nigerian troops in UNAMSIL would not
undermine Nigeria's honor and dignity. Why the demand for Nigeria
to take over the command of UNAMSIL? The crisis in Sierra Leone
is international in scope and there cannot be a narrowly defined
African solution to such a complex situation. The international
criminal gangs that plunder the diamond mines of Sierra Leone,
the gun-running in West Africa and the drug dealers who take advantage
of the instability in the sub-region to ply their trade underline
the necessity for an international approach to the resolution
of the crisis. Furthermore, Nigerian officers have served in command
positions in UN peace keeping in other parts of the world and
that no one has raised the issue of Africans commanding outside
of Africa. Why is it that Nigerian troops cannot all serve under
an Indian, a Pakistani or a Jordanian command?
Why this fussiness by Nigeria in the light of the tragedy in an African country? There is an African parable that says when your brother's house is on fire, you do not demand a special bucket to help throw water on the flames. Is there any hidden reason why the Nigerian leadership is making demands that are so petty and preposterous?
The argument that the Nigerians know the terrain of Sierra Leone and therefore should be given command of UNAMSIL rings hollow. It was their failure in the first place that led to the increased mayhem and massacre of our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone. Had it not been for the heroic militia units, which fought throughout the length and breadth of Sierra Leone, it is doubtful whether the Nigerians would have been able to defeat the rebels in Freetown. Following this victory, the Sierra Leone government was dragged to Lome to sign an obnoxious Peace Accord with the unrepentant murderers, rapists and plunderers of the people of Sierra Leone. A Peace Accord drafted and supported by the likes of Eyadema, Compaore and Taylor who have no qualms about profiting from the destruction of the African people as in Angola and Liberia is not worth the paper it is written on. This is why we find it difficult to understand the position of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah that the Peace Accord is a valid document that warrants the efforts of his government and the support of the people of Sierra Leone. We know what the people of Sierra Leone think about this Accord. They are reminded each day of the injustice of the whole affair by looking at their mutilated bodies, their traumatized daughters who have been gang-raped and the absence of their children, abducted by the RUF bandits! This is why they use every opportunity to protest and in the process pay the supreme sacrifice! President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah must listen to the voice of his people and not to the hypocritical posturing of Colonel Qadhafi, Charles Taylor, Gnassingbe Eyadema, and Blaise Compaore.
Also, we question the role President Olusegun Obasanjo and his friend Rev. Jesse Jackson played by endorsing the Lome Peace Accord - a shameful symbol of moral abdication, in July 1999 as the best for Sierra Leone under the circumstances. This was an Accord which granted amnesty to those who had committed some of the most heinous atrocities in contemporary times. It also left the rebels in charge of the diamond mines and absorbed them into the government to preside over their traumatized victims. Never in recent history has such disregard been shown towards the sensibility and human dignity of a people! And yet, leaders like, Olusegun Obasanjo and Jesse Jackson, who built their careers on the struggle for dignity and justice for black humanity, supported the Accord!
In this regard, it is obvious to us that there is a conspiracy against the people of Sierra Leone. This conspiracy has as its focus the rehabilitation of Charles Taylor and the promotion of the RUF as a force in the politics of Sierra Leone. The unmasking of the criminal activities of Charles Taylor means that he will only feel comfortable if his allies in the RUF were made relevant in the governance of Sierra Leone. This would be his issuance against the wrath of the enraged people of our sister country. Thus his friends, mainly President Obasanjo, Jesse Jackson and Colonel Qadhafi are conspiring to see that he is strengthened and rehabilitated in the international community. This explains the demand for a Nigerian control of UNAMSIL; Jesse Jackson's earlier pronouncement equating the murderous RUF with the freedom fighters of the African Nationalist Congress; and Colonel Qadhafi's denunciation of the timely participation of the British as a form of colonialism, there is a hidden agenda by the friends of Taylor and it revolves around undermining the resolve of the peace keeping mission of the United Nations and the British forces in Sierra Leone. This should not be allowed to happen, as it would benefit only the thugs of the RUF and their sponsor, Charles Taylor.
Moreover, we find the friendship between Presidents Obasanjo
and Charles Taylor very strange. We are still trying to decipher
the Nigerian President's keen attachment to Charles Taylor. We
are left to guess as to the reason for this unholy alliance. It
is not in our nature to question the character of the president
of a regional power like Nigeria. Thus, we will give him the benefit
and ascribe his activities to sheer naivete. We hope history will
not disabuse us of our lenient judgement. On the other hand, the
case of Jesse Jackson is a reminder that in many cases black solidarity
is a pretext for self-aggrandizement. We know him better than
most people and therefore will not waste our time on dealing with
his activities in Africa. What bothers us is how an administration
known for its liberal credentials can treat Africa with such contempt
by sending as envoy one that does not really know and understand
the politics of the region. This was the same man who demanded
that his son be given an oil contract by the despot Sani Abacha in order for him (Jesse) to use his good office to lift the sanctions imposed by the Clinton administration on the military regime. This was done at a time when the Nigerian people were languishing under the most brutal dictatorship in their history. The oil contract was given but the sanctions were not lifted.
We know as a cardinal fact that Rev. Jackson is not concern about the plight of the peoples of Liberia and Sierra Leone. If it were not so, he won't be serving as a lobbyist for Charles Taylor and perhaps, Foday Sankoh and his RUF. Thus his first statement on the RUF was his true feeling, courtesy of his friend and brother Charles Taylor. His subsequent retraction was from the State Department. This made more sense and conformed to international consensus on the RUF. Thus, we are surprised that the State Department is not in the forefront of the mission to Sierra Leone as the career diplomats are far more knowledgeable about the African reality than a self-proclaimed expert on Africa. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's recent comment on the RUF underscores this point.
To add insult to injury, Colonel Qadhafi tells us that we have to re-define the term of colonialism in this new age. The Libyan leader is known for his support of Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor. These two criminals have destroyed their respective countries and murdered thousands of their people. This was the same Colonel who sent troops to aid Idi Amin when the Tanzanian internationalists decided to save the Ugandan people from the savagery of the butcher. We also remember his activities in Chad when his forces seized Bande d'Aouzou and bombed the town of Faya Largeau on August 1, 1983. The Chadian government described this act as a "campaign of veritable genocide against the civilian population." The Colonel cannot name a single Libyan soldier who fought in the wars of liberation waged by the ANC in South Africa, SWAPO in Namibia, the MPLA in Angola or Frelimo in Mozambique, but yet he supports bandits who murder and maim innocent Africans.
Since the war in the Sudan where the Arab Africans in the North are victimizing the black Africans in the South, we have not heard him condemn those who are committing these atrocities. Now, the Colonel claims he has turned his attention to Africa, but for what purpose, may we ask? The Colonel has ambition of domination but the Middle East where he tried to play his games over the past three decades has many powerful countries and leaders; thus he has turned to Africa where there are destitute states--some of which he has helped to create-- and cheap leaders who can be bought for a few petrol dollars. The Colonel must be told that the genocide his policies have unleashed on black Africa can only force us to re-define colonialism as the racist imposition of unbearable conditions on another people. We are convinced that if the people of Sierra Leone have to choose between the butchers the Colonel supports and the British troops who now provide security for them, the people will embrace the British with much fervor and say to them: "Welcome Bwanas, we are glad you have come. We wish you had come earlier so that our daughters would not have been violated, our children's limbs hacked off, our fathers mutilated, our mothers traumatized and our country thrown back to the Stone Age." What is annoying for us is that the Colonel thinks he can choose our friends for us. We say this is unacceptable as Black Africa has come of age, to paraphrase the late Murtala Mohammed of Nigeria.
Having considered all of the above, we call on the United Nations to state unequivocally that the command of UNAMSIL will never be given to West Africa. Also, those all-Nigerian troops in Sierra Leone should be under the United Nations. Finally, there should be no lifting of the arms embargo on Liberia. West Africa needs to be cleansed of arms and not be allowed to import additional weapons!
We therefore resolved that the rebels in Sierra Leone must be defeated. The diamond mines must be wrested from their control and handed over to the central government. The Sierra Leone army and the pro-government militias need to be helped with logistics, training and uniforms. They should take the fight for the control of mineral producing areas to the rebels. The UN troops and the British must ensure that the Liberian border with Sierra Leone is kept under constant surveillance. With the weakening of the rebel forces must come their prohibition from the politics of Sierra Leone for a considerable number of years as punishment for their crimes against the people. One can assume that many of them will flee to their sanctuary in Liberia and thus the longevity of the Taylor regime is dangerous for the stability of West Africa.
Furthermore, the issue of rebel adventure in West Africa can be put to rest once and for all if only the chief sponsor of this phenomenon is disposed of. Thus, we want to add our voice to the recommendation made by Senator Judd Gregg in his article, "A Graveyard Peace." West Africa must be cleared of the scourge of banditry in order for the process of reconstruction to begin. The cleansing process should end in Liberia where the bandits of the RUF roam freely.
To this end, it becomes our moral responsibility to expose the game the international community plays when it concerns the plight of Africans and people of African origin. In this respect, the Liberian Democratic Future pledge its solidarity and fraternal support to the people of Sierra Leone, the Concerned Sierra Leoneans for the Restoration of Democracy and the Sierra Leone Relief Organization who have assembled on Thursday, May 25th, 2000 at Ralph Bunche Park (43rd Street/First Avenue) to denounce the "Games People Play when it concerns Africans".
On this note, we issue this statement calling for a community of law, order and justice within the framework of the Mano River Union, and that serious action should be taken against those who violate our rights. Because we realize that to keep silent in the face of the suffering of another people is to forfeit the moral authority in fighting for the dignity and honor of one's own people!
For the Greater Good of the African People throughout the world, we remain their devoted servants,
George H. Nubo
Abraham M. Williams
General Secretary, LDF
Issued this 25th day of May, 2000, in the State of Georgia, USA
CC: President Bill Clinton
U. N. General Assembly
U. S. State Department
U. S. Congress
Economic Community of West African States
The Organization of African Unity
Liberian Permanent Mission to the U. N.
The Liberian Embassy, Washington, DC
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
The Carter Center
Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Amnesty International, UK
Amnesty International, USA
New York Times
Africa News Service
British Broadcasting Corporation
British Broadcasting Corporation
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The Liberian Democratic Future is a think-tank, democratic, and research organization devoted to Liberia's democratic future