Liberia. Once again, the hope of peace in the glorified
L. failed as fierce fighting broke out in the capital
Monrovia in April. A peace agreement signed in 1995 had
given the largest militia groups a seat in the government
and in the governing council. In addition, the city had been
filled by soldiers from various factions. The fighting began
when the two dominant militia leaders, Charles Taylor and
Alhaji Kromah, sent their men to arrest a third leader,
Roosevelt Johnson, whom they accused of murder. Johnson's
soldiers made strong resistance and were supported by two
other militia recruited from the same people group, Krahn.
Johnson's forces took hundreds of people hostage - Liberian
civilians, Lebanese businessmen and soldiers from the West
African Peace Monitoring Economic Community ECOMOG, the West
African States Monitoring Group.
Countryaah.com, several attempts at ceasefire were almost immediately
broken, and the fighting soon degenerated into complete
anarchy. Soldiers from all militia looted the city and shot
parts of it in ruins. All aid organizations, including the
UN, lost all equipment. Food supplies intended for civilian
refugees were destroyed. Most foreigners had sought
protection at the US embassy and began evacuating after a
The fighting lasted well into May and forced tens of
thousands of people to flee to neighboring countries.
Without food or water and under severe sanitary conditions,
thousands of people traveled by substandard ships along the
West African coast before being allowed to land. Eventually,
the fighting erupted, and in August, the parties agreed on a
new peace plan drawn up by the Economic Cooperation
Organization ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African
States. All militias must have been disarmed by 31 January
1997 and general elections will be held on 31 May 1997.
ECOMOG more than doubles to 18,000 men. Former President of
the Council, in effect President, was appointed former
Senator Ruth Perry.
However, the suspicion between the militias was still
great and the disarmament went slow. There is also a great
deal of skepticism among the population as to whether this
peace plan should really give lasting peace.