PRESS RELEASE of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)

By Office of the National Spokesman and Chairman Strategy and Public Relations Committee
Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County,Republic of Liberia -- Official Policy Statement dated: February 11, 2002

The National Executive Committee (N.E.C.), the policy and decision-making body of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), wishes to state, as a matter of policy, that its prime objective for engaging and sustaining the ongoing political and military pressure in Liberia is to liberate the country from dictatorship and tyranny, and restore peace, security, respect for fundamental human rights, and above all genuine multi-party participatory democracy under the determination of the Liberian people. As such, LURD's institutional position of holding of a national conference to determine a future transitional arrangement under civilian rule pending democratic elections in the post-Taylor era remains very clear, and very firm. Anything short of this does not reflect the official policy and collective consideration of LURD in any form, manner or shape. This policy direction is the overriding vision and goal of all members of the entire organization, including it's political leadership and military high command. All remain unwaveringly committed, and fully willing to defend this policy. LURD institutionally registers its regrets for all and any shortcomings, either in utterances or actions, during the last couple of weeks. The Organization wishes to state in clear terms that the official, recognized channel for the expression of LURD policy decisions, and day to day information dissemination is and remains the Office of the National Spokesman and Chairman, Strategy and Public Relations Committee headed by William Hanson. Additionally, this Office may designate specific officials of the Organization from time to time to address certain crucial issues on behalf of the Movement based on the subject matter and the expertise of said official. In this vein, LURD wants to make it very clear that Mr. Charles Bennie serves as a Political Advisor while (Rtd.) B/Gen. Joe Wylie serves as the Senior Military Advisor of LURD. Both officials, like others, have been and could be designated to speak on behalf of the Organization provided the subject matter at hand requires their expertise and locational advantage as well as approval from the N.E.C through the National Spokesman.

There is unity and focus within the rank and file of the Organization's leadership and military high command. LURD wishes to state that it will improve its coordination mechanism in order to avoid and prevent existing and potential short-comings which tend to suggest misunderstanding in public and private circles.

We want the public to know, particularly our fellow Liberians, Africans, and our Western friends as well as the international community, including the United Nations, OAU, EEC, ECOWAS and civic society organizations that LURD desires nothing other than the unconditional resignation of Charles Taylor from the Liberian presidency and his unceremonious departure for a peaceful exile life in Taiwan until he repents to the Liberian people and the Mano River Union basin sub-region for his acts of mayhem and atrocities committed during the last decade. The resignation and subsequent departure of Taylor will then mark the end to LURD's current political pressure and military offensive in the country thus restoring peace, security, and a level playing field for the much desired democratization and reconstruction process of the nation. On the military front, LURD's forces are maintaining all of their positions throughout Northwestern Liberia. At the moment, Klay, Suehn, and surrounding towns very close to the capital Monrovia at about 35 miles, are front lines. In a long running intensive combat on Sunday, February 10, 2002, LURD's forces ambushed two of Taylor's military trucks, killed several soldiers including a senior commander, and captured other soldiers along with many arms and much ammunition.

Mindful of the population and plight of the Sierra Leonean refugees and internally displaced Liberians in the Klay and Suehn area who are maltreated and used as human shields by Taylor's untrained and ruthless ATU soldiers, LURD's forces are redesigning their operational tactics in the area. This is done as part of LURD's principles to rescue and respect civilian lives and properties as well as comply with international human rights standards and humanitarian law.

LURD urges the Liberian Legislature and the international community, particularly the UN, EU, OAU, ECOWAS, the United States, British and French Governments to influence Charles Taylor's resignation and subsequent exit from Liberia to Taiwan so as to halt the ongoing conflict and the suffering of the nation and the people as well as restore, strengthen and maintain genuine democracy, civil liberties and economic development.

Finally, LURD also calls on all Liberian political and interest groups to join its liberation struggle by offering basic counseling and other advice, and to begin a formative process of dialogue aimed at renegotiating a national consensus for the country instead of only criticizing. LURD's recourse to military action against the Taylor regime is a matter of last resort as every opportunity to bring Taylor to see reason and simple decency for the common good of the country and our people, who he has victimized for a decade, failed to yield fruits. Having reflected at all levels, it is the conclusion of LURD that the only language that Taylor will listen to is a well planned and organized military pressure such as the one that LURD's forces are conducting at the moment. Acknowledging the hard facts that LURD as a human institution is not immune to errors, particularly in an armed struggle, the Organization promises to remain committed to protecting the lives and properties of civilians and even Liberian Government soldiers who surrendered. All other Liberians including Taylor's officials and family members, both in and outside of the country, are assured of LURD's protection and goodwill now and in the future as the struggle is against Charles Taylor the person, and nobody else.

~ End ~

February 11th, 20002

© Robert W. Kranz  24-02-2002