Liberian Orbit, December 4, 2002          

Roosevelt Johnson Found in Jos

Former ULIMO-J Warring faction leader Roosevelt Johnson is living in the Nigerian city of Jos, contrary to Liberian government claims that he resides in the Ivory Coast involved in rebel activities. The Orbit correspondent in Lagos has tracked down Johnson, who is said to be living a private life and doing local rice trading.

Liberia’s Information Minister, Reginald Goodridge, reportedly said yesterday Roosevelt Johnson and another Liberian ULIMO-J member, George Dweh, were in the Ivory Coast "serving as a thrust to strengthen" LURD dissidents forces fighting the Monrovia regime in northern Liberia. The Liberian government says Krahn ethnic members of Johnson’s former faction are the Liberians being pointed out in the current Ivorian rebel fighting in western Ivory Coast, close to the Liberian border. The ORBIT has confirmed that George Dweh resides in a Western European country, also involved in food commerce.

Our correspondent talked to official Nigerian sources who confirmed that Johnson has been living in Nigeria since 1998 when Liberian government forces attacked him and fellow Krahns on Monrovia’s Camp Johnson Road. He and a few of his colleagues took refuge at the American embassy, at which time government troops shot into the embassy compound killing Madison Wion, a confidante. Through multilateral diplomatic intervention, Johnson and the others were airlifted to neighboring Sierra Leone. He was finally given asylum in Nigeria under a special arrangement. The sources tell the ORBIT Johnson has not left the country since then.

Our Monrovia correspondent says the government appears to be nervous over continued allegations that it is involved with rebels fighting the Ivorian government. New groups in the conflict say they are avenging the death of Former Military Head of State Robert Guei, a Gio said to have had close links with Taylor. Liberia was the first country Guei visited after overthrowing his government, returning home with the news that he got "valuable advice" from Taylor. It was subsequently reported that Liberian security men had been spotted among Guei's bodyguards. And when Guei was being ousted by the crowd following his failure to yield to defeat in the presidential elections, Liberians were attacked in Abidjan on account that Liberian militiamen were helping to protect Guei during the fracas.

It has also been reported that former Sierra Leone RUF rebel leader, Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie, had been ferrying arms from Burkina Faso through Guei's district into Liberia. Gouessesso had become a transit point for the overland arms movement, and it appeared that Ivorian authorities had no knowledge of the highly discrete arrangement. Sam Bockarie has remained close to Charles Taylor since leaving Sierra Leone, having fallen out with his RUF rebel hierarchy at the time. Bockarie went to Monrovia with many other RUF soldiers and quickly formed a core within Taylor's Special Security Service. Following the imposition of the UN sanctions on the Taylor regime for militarily supporting RUF, Bockarie went underground. The sanctions required the expulsion of all RUF fighters from Liberia. Bockarie was first sent to Burkina Faso, and then to the Democratic Republic of Congo to the late Kabila, and later to Savimbi in Angola. He later returned to begin the land arms shipment through the Ivorian border. He now frequently joins his former fighters in northern Liberia to fight against the LURD Liberian dissidents.

With the war escalating along the Liberian border with pointing fingers to Taylor known for his destabilization of neighbors in Sierra Leone and Guinea, the United States government has come out with warning against support for the Ivorian rebels from any nearby territory, though it did not name any specific neighbors.

added by: Robert W. Kranz (Dec-2002)