Taylor, RUF Issue Warnings as Refugees Pour

The Perspective
February 12, 2001

As heavy fighting sends tens of thousands of residents and refugees stranded in Guinea now described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, President Charles Taylor and Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, have respectively issued warnings that more troubles are ahead. But UNHCR High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, now touring the refugee camps in Guinea, says criminal gangs, diamonds , gunrunning are quickening the region disintegration.

The RUF has threatened more war "not only in Sierra Leone, but in the entire region." The rebels, in a press statement, claimed, "Intelligent reading of the (Liberian Government document disputing UN Panel of Experts) document reveals that this sovereign, elected (Taylor's regime) government is not likely to be strangled by western powers without a considerable fight The point being stressed here is that the parties have failed to deal in good faith and this is what should ultimately lead to an escalation of war in the region", the rebels said.

Similarly, Taylor has warned that "Guinean President Lansana Conte 'feels he can destabilize Liberia and get away with it. But he must know that the baby that says its mother will not sleep, will itself not sleep.'"

"This is one clear indication that Taylor's footprints are implanted in Guinea. Only God will help us in Liberia and within the region. What is now happening in Guinea will spread to others like The Gambia, Ivory Coast and you name. It is no idle talk. The world cannot only be concerned about refugees who products of instability. It must be concerned about the fate of West Africa. Hope is fading", said a Liberian priest of the Anglican Church via telephone in Accra, Ghana.

The once stable Guinean border town of Gueckedu, holding tens of thousands of refugees, has been destroyed, according to sources. Thousands of refugees and residents have also abandoned the provincial town of Kissidougou.

Meanwhile, in one of the many defenses of President Charles Taylor of Liberia, the RUF, in press statement sent to news organizations including The Perspective, also dismissed the recent UN Panel of Experts report which concluded that Taylor's backing of the RUF was overwhelming.

"The President of Liberia was requested to permit Sam Bockarie to stay in Monrovia and the UN Secretary General also promised to solicit funding for his stay from friendly Governments. Unfortunately to date none has been forthcoming."

The rebels added that their dealings with Taylor have been endorsed by the UN, and the regional organization ECOWAS: "Based upon complaints received by the President of Liberia from the Secretary General of the UN, ECOWAS and President Kabbah of Sierra Leone that Sam Bockarie was not cooperating with Foday Sankoh particularly with regard to instructions given by Foday Sankoh in respect of RUF disarmament, they requested the President of Liberia's personal intervention to resolve the matter. This lack of cooperation was viewed as impeding the implementation of the Lome Agreement".

But Sierra Leone's foreign minister Sama Banya wants the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the Liberian leadership for its active support for Sierra Leone's rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

Banya, who pressed for the sanctions at a press conference at the UN, maintained that recent offers by President Charles Taylor of Liberia to cut off ties with the rebel group and co- operate towards the resolution of the Sierra Leonean conflict were not sincere. "We don't believe their assurances," he said, adding that Taylor made the offers just because the international community was now determined to take effective action against Liberia.

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