Liberians Denounce War, Want Peaceful Means to Remove Taylor
August 14, 2000

The umbrella organization of Liberians living in the Diaspora, the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), has denounced the ongoing war in the country, calling instead for peaceful means to replace President Charles who, the organization maintains, has failed to uphold democratic values, thus plunging the country in chaos and international disrepute. .

The organization, based in the United States, accused Taylor of numerous human violations, including the freedom of the press, the right of peace assembly, and free and impartial trials.

The Liberian organization also accused Taylor, a warlord turned president, of mismanaging the economy and creating the conditions for insecurity that have kept thousands of Liberians in refugee camps despite the July 1997 elections and promises of democratization.

"The fragile peace and tenuous security conditions in Liberia are threatened by renewed fighting in Lofa County and perhaps other parts of Liberia between the Liberian Government forces and fighters of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). This latest military incursion which began on July 7, 2000, follows other arm clashes in Lofa County during April, 1999 and August 1999. LURD has given President Taylor 90 days to resign or be removed by full force. President Taylor has declared a state of emergency in Lofa and dispatched contingents of military and security personnel as well as conscripts to engage in warfare against the LURD forces. Recently, President Taylor informed the Liberian people of the number of people dead and wounded as a result of this action", ULAA noted.

ULAA will meet on 26 August to mop out their policy regarding the Taylor government and developments in the country.

Having elected a new leadership almost a year ago, and for the first time a female president in its twenty-six - year history, ULAA continues to be plagued by a credibility and image problem, despite a change in leadership. While it served as a major voice in the '70s, alongside other pro-democracy groups, championing the need for justice, freedom of the press, and respect for human rights, by the 80s, ULAA underwent a profound political change and lost its primary focus and direction.

The change in focus and direction did not augur well for the Union. The perception that ULAA not only abandon its core principles, but was now being used as a launching pad for furthering the political ambitions of those who led it was quite evident. Charles Taylor and many of its former members now constitutes the current corrupt crop of the Liberian political leadership. This has led to the gradual erosion of its credibility among its Liberian constituency here in the United States.

As the ULAA struggles to repair its image, despite what appears to be good intentions and determined efforts on the part of its current leadership, it seems confronted by a new wave of problems. There is a growing internal squabble over policy direction. While the administration under the leadership of Mydea Reeves-Karpeh seems determined to breakaway from the baggage of the past, it is being challenged by the Board, its legislative and policymaking body. The Board of Directors, chaired by Augustus Major, is said to be accommodating to the Taylor government. This has led to a virtual stalemate which has hindered the administration from pursuing its other important programs.

Mr. Major, who some Board members classified as "Chairman for life" because he has been Chairman for several years, has in the past undermined ULAA efforts. Among other pro-government maneuverings, he was considered a Taylor's apologist and was publicly confronted for undermining ULAA's February 6, 1998, Protest Rally against the widespread and continual abuses of human rights and civil liberties of the people of Liberia by the Liberian government. ULAA insiders feel that Taylor's apologists within the Union are determined to attend the August 26 meeting to water down any resolution issued by the Union.

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