OAU Chief Meets Taylor

Jan 4, 2001

The Secretary General of the Organization for African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim, is reportedly visiting Liberia's President Charles Taylor for undisclosed reasons.

Sources say Mr. Salim will spend two days on President Taylor's farm outside Monrovia. No official reason for his visit has been given.

The visit comes in the wake of heightened international exposure and indictment of Liberia's role in the destabilization and criminilization of West Africa.

The UN Panel of Experts on Liberia's role in Sierra Leone war, in its report released recently, said it "found unequivocal and overwhelming evidence that Liberia has been actively supporting the RUF at all levels, in providing training, weapons and related matériel, logistical support, a staging ground for attacks and a safe haven for retreat and recuperation".

The Panel added, "the police interrogation statements of some of the arrested RUF officials and the oral statements of former rebels interviewed by the panel confirm the presence of foreign mercenaries including South African and Ukrainians training and fighting alongside RUF"

Outgoing American Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Susan Rice, told Congress that, "Liberia has been involved in this conflict almost from the beginning, and now Guinea is victim to cross-border incursions by RUF elements and their allies. This has led to increased domestic instability within Guinea, which is already hosting nearly half a million refugees from both Sierra Leone and Liberia."

"Salim's visit is intended to give us some respectability. We need it. After all we are all Africans. We need to help one another", said a Liberian Government official on condition of anonymity.

A number of international and African figures have in the past hailed Taylor as a continental leader. Key African-American leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Donald Payne and others elevated the Liberian, who escaped from prison to launch a 7-yaer war with Libyan, Burkinabe and Ivorian backing, to a high status. Many were believed to be his closet advisors and lobbyists in Washington. But the recent UN Report also indicted a number of African countries, including Zambia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, etc. in regional instability schemes for diamonds.

"The Panel has found conclusive evidence of supply lines to the RUF through Burkina Faso, Niger and Liberia. Weapons supplied to these countries by governments or private arms merchants have been diverted for use in the conflict in Sierra Leone. Cote d'Ivoire, under previous administrations, was sympathetic to the Liberian government and, indirectly, to the RUF in Sierra Leone. The Ivorian relationship dates back to the training of RUF and Liberian rebels in Cote d'Ivoire in the early 1990s", the Report revealed.

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