Liberian Officials Test Strength of UN Travel Ban

The Perspective

August 7, 2001

As Liberian officials and supporters of Charles Taylor fight to have their names removed from the UN travel list, some official are bent on testing the strength of the ban. They have concluded that the ban is like the one imposed by the Clinton administration which Liberian officials have routinely violated. Liberia's West African neighbors were charged with the responsibility to enforce the sanction regime. To date, it seems that Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone are performing their duties.

Recently, Jamal Basma, "Informal Advisor to President Taylor" as per the UN Sanctions List, was arrested in Abidjan by the Ivorian security and held in detention for a few days. He was released only upon intervention of the Ivorian Consul, Mr. Prosper Kotchi, through President Gbagbo. The initiative which resulted into the release is said to have stemmed from the personal intervention/pleading of President Taylor.

Similarly, on Saturday, August 4, a group of Liberian officials comprising Ms. Grace B. Minor: Senator and Advisor to President Taylor, Ms. Myrtle Gibson: Senator and Advisor to President Taylor and Ms. Amelia Ward: Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs tried to test the travel ban. The group of Mano River Union Women for Peace which went to Freetown on Saturday, as a follow-up to a recent trip to Conakry, was turned back, primarily because of the presence of some "illegals" .

The Weasua plane taking the delegation had to return with all its passengers to Monrovia. It is not clear whether the entire delegation was refused entry into Freetown by the authorities, or whether only the "sanctions busters" were denied permission. But the delegation returned as a group.

It can be recalled that during the Liberia VS Sierra Leone soccer match, Foreign Minister Monie Captan and Finance Minister Nathaniel Barnes decided to travel to Sierra Leone, but that nation refused to allow them.

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