LURD on Deadlines,
Sanctions, New Strategies...
By Bodioh Siapoe
DC, March 1, 2001] --
days ago, LURD's defense spokesperson and senior military advisor,
General Joe Wylie, flew from Liberia to inform other Liberians
and the international community about his organization's latest stance
in what he calls "the just struggle to liberate Liberia from the
clutches of anarchy and daylight robbery." Below is what General
Wylie discussed with COPLA in Washington, DC.
General Liberty inspects a captured anti-aircraft
weapon as other LURD fighters take cover.
It is a pleasure meeting and talking with you again. What has brought
you this time to Washington, DC?
I just arrived here from the battleground to solicit diplomatic and other
support for our effort to make Charles Taylor see common sense and relinquish
power without much ado. I am here to meet with members of the diplomatic
community to make the LURD case. We plan to also meet with Liberians who
have resolved to give us their moral support to ensure Liberia becomes
free and green again.
What happened to the 90-day deadline given by LURD last year to remove
President Charles Taylor from power? What's wrong with that picture?
There was a huge outcry when we first struck in Lofa county. There were
concerns for civilian casualties and concerns for innocent refugees that
made us to change our tactics, not our strategy. We decided to retreat
to the mountains and give global public opinion and the international
community a chance to compel Mr. Taylor to see reason and leave the Liberian
people. But as usual, Mr. Taylor remains bellicose. His intransigence
forced us back on the road of liberation to take power by force. Our silence
in past months, therefore, did not mean we had abandoned our goal to liberate
Liberia by any means necessary.
In recent weeks, news reports indicated ULIMO-K fighters have been responsible
for all the fighting along the Guinea-Liberia border. What has happened
to LURD? Is ULIMO-K and LURD one and the same? What do you know about
Black and white, K-1 and other LURD officers in the jungle
There is no ULIMO-K anywhere. ULIMO-K died a natural death when Alhaji
it into ALCO, a political party, which contested the 1997 elections and
paved the way for Mr. Taylor's bogus victory. What has happened since
is that LURD effectively has recruited remnants from defunct guerilla
movements as ULIMO-K, ULIMO-J, LPC, the Lofa
Force, the Nimba Redemption Council and the NPFL. Under its control and
guidance, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy has successfully
put together a brand new military structure on the ground. Clearly, LURD
is the group that is fighting to bring Charles Taylor down. As LURD's
defense spokesman and senior military advisor, it is my duty to educate,
motivate and inspire our people about the true nature of the Liberian
conflict. Mr. Taylor is the common enemy that must be dealt with. As such,
we have decided to put aside our former nomenclatures to deal with Taylor
Why does LURD prefer to deal with Mr. Taylor militarily and not democratically
through the ballot box in 2003?
The year 2003 is too far. At the rate Mr. Taylor is killing our people
and suffering the nation, the refugees in the region might also increase
by the year 2003. So ours is a rescue mission to free our people from
refugee camps, provide drinking water for our people, provide light that
Mr. Taylor cannot provide, provide medical care and schools for our children
and restore the dignity of the Liberian man once again.
What do you make of the proposed controversial sanctions against the Taylor
The sanctions were a good attempt to pressure Mr. Taylor diplomatically
and internationally to come to terms with the reality of West Africa,
in general, and Liberia, in particular. That reality is Mr. Taylor must
resign so that our country and the entire subregion will have peace once
again. But as usual, certain West African leaders, who have a "mercenary
mentality," have taken bribes from Mr. Taylor and Mr. Khaddafi to
prolong the suffering of the Liberian people. We in LURD are of the conviction
that this kind of pussyfooting with Mr. Taylor on the part of certain
West African leaders is very dangerous even to those leaders who support
Taylor. They should understand that anything less than Taylor's removal
from power would be unacceptable and uncivilized.
What if sanctions are not imposed against Liberia by the United Nations
We in LURD do not really need sanctions to liberate us. We are bleeding,
we are dying, we are crying and we are sweating to make sure our dream
of freedom is translated into material freedom; that our dream of freedom
is translated into reality.
Let's talk a little about territorial gains at the warfront.
We are not in Liberia to make news about gaining villages, little towns
and cities in the interior of the country. We are interested in waging
a decisive war that will free the entire country -- from Cape Palmas to
Cape Mount, from Gbezon, Grand Bassa County to Yekepa, Nimba County. And
so we shall not announce having captured any village or town. It is not
our place to take people's villages and turn them into military camps.
Why is it taking so long to achieve your goal?
For us, we are not interested in quick-fix solutions to the Liberian crisis.
It was the same quick-fix solutions that certain ECOWAS leaders sought
when they forced Mr. Taylor down the throats of the Liberian people after
killing their mothers and their fathers.
LURD officers after a heated battle
in Voinjama, Lofa County, Liberia
We are not
just fighting Mr. Taylor. We are also doing battle with elements in our
midst who are bent on tribalizing the war for their own selfish reasons;
elements who are bent on creating Buthelezi-type tribal militias -- militias
that have no political direction to find their way to power.
We are also
fighting the confusion in West Africa about the true nature of the Liberian
civil conflict. This is the one conflict in which every citizen of West
Africa has wasted his blood. This is a regional war that is being fought
in Liberia and is now spreading into other countries. Mr. Taylor has turned
our country into a springboard for visiting aggression, terror and intimidation
on Sierra Leoneans, Guineans and La Cote d'Ivoireans. Our fight is also
for regional security. We believe that until Mr. Taylor is thrown into
the past tense of the grammar of West African politics, the whole region
is not safe, because Mr. Taylor depends on the inexhaustible arsenal and
finance of Colonel Khaddafi and has decided to take parts of Sierra Leone
that are diamond-rich to sponsor ambitions that extend beyond Liberian
territory. Any West African leader who does not understand this ought
to be ashamed of himself.
Reports have it that Guinea is helping LURD forces in your liberation
struggle. What can you tell us?
Guinea has never helped LURD forces in fighting Taylor. Like I stated
in earlier interviews, LURD is a homegrown political-guerilla movement
that gets its ammunition, its food and other supplies right from the enemy.
Guinea is not in the picture. When we become a government one day, we
hope, of course, to restore the cordial and friendly relationship that
existed between the people of Liberia and the people of Guinea for more
than 50 years before Taylor came on the scene.
Before we end this conversation, is there anything else you might want
I want to use this occasion to appeal to the United Nations, the OAU and
ECOWAS that their strategy and policies on Liberia have to be rethought.
From now on, anybody doing business with Mr. Taylor in Liberia is doing
it at his own risk. We ask all those who love human beings to isolate
this monster so that his downfall would be quickened.
is just and God is on our side. Victory is certain for the Liberian people.
After Mr. Taylor is overthrown, we are going to call the Liberian people
in the shortest possible time to elect their own leaders through the ballot
There are more pictures on next page.