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: March 14th, 2002

Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Dear Dr. Chambas:

We want to thank you for the invitation you extended us to attend the conference that was proposed in your communication with one of our spokesmen, Mr. Charles Bennie.

We at LURD felt the need for such a conference long before our actions proved that we might be a useful partner in the search for peace. It appears however that the realization that we could play a positive role in the search for peace in Liberia took the same convoluted route as your invitation for our participation in the pending conference. Consequently both arrived a bit late.

The need for a conference remains even more urgent even though your invitation for exploration for peace reached us barely 24 hours before the conference was to commence. We ascribe no sinister motive to the late invitation. If anything the lack of prior or sustained contacts between the ECOWAS Secretariat and LURD's National Executive Council (NEC) could explain the delay and your hesitancy in contacting us. We therefore see your gracious invitation as a much needed means of frequent dialogue.

Regardless of how we found each other, we need to put this opportunity to good use. One of the ways we can do this is by stating our positions on issues regarding our common desire for peace in Liberia, and the rest of our West African neighborhood. To that end, we have come to certain conclusions. Among those conclusions is our judgment that Charles Taylor is not good for Liberia. That is the decision we have reached. All of our actions are therefore predicated on that belief.

As a group dedicated to solving particular problems in Liberia, we have identified and ranked these problems. We have determined that Charles Taylor is Liberia's Number One problem. Because we reached this specific conclusion, we do not want to waste our time and energies in arenas where we wield little influence to bring about the end of Taylor's rule in Liberia. Expanding the scope of our concerns, we view Taylor as a destabilizing element in all of West Africa. If you believe the United States and Great Britain, then Taylor could also be viewed as a global threat to peace and stability.

We say all this to state that the problems of Liberia are rather obvious - at least to us. So the question is how do we go about solving the problems? Since we have determined that Taylor is the source of the problems, we have deduced that he cannot be a part of the search for a solution. Therefore removing Taylor is the solution. The question is how? ECOWAS already knows what we have chosen to do as our means of removing him. If there is a cheaper way, we want to know about it. We are not particularly interested - at this time - in the penal aspect of the debate; namely, what fate should befall Charles Taylor for all of his criminal acts that have earned him and Liberia an international opprobrium through the current United Nations sanctions. Once he is removed, we will have time enough to determine what punishment will give us a feeling of judicial adequacy, considering all that Taylor has put both Liberia and the West African region through.

In this endeavor, we are persuaded that not all the useful knowledge toward a solution resides in the camp of LURD and its supporters. This is why we see any conference as an opportunity for bringing together diverse groups for better understanding of a common problem. To that end we see very useful roles for Liberian political opposition groups and some among the silent majority who have endured everything that was forced on them by competing factions for political power. This is why LURD proposed a Liberian national conference in which a cross section of the country would have a say about the formation of the next government of Liberia. However, what LURD will not allow in such convocation is any group advocating accommodation for Charles Taylor, or his interests! We believe that Liberia has lost a generation of Liberians through death, displacement, and mental ruination. Taylor's destruction reached into every corner of our West African neighborhood: From Senegal whose servicemen were killed in 1991 while simply on patrol in Taylor's territories in which they had gone to establish their peaceful presence, to Nigeria which bore the brunt of the death and expense for ending the carnage in Liberia.

We say we have suffered enough on account of one human being. If we are going to have problems in fixing Liberia, we prefer new problems rather than the same old ones that has dealt us death and destruction. We want to move beyond Taylor.

In the interest of dialogue, we are prepared to examine any new set of proposals and a timetable that gives us ample time to field a delegation duly prepared to make LURD's case in a future conference.

Most respectfully yours,

LURD's National Executive Council (NEC)
Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)
Voinjama, Republic of Liberia

~ End ~

March 25th, 20002

© Robert W. Kranz  27-03-2002