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Editorial: Who’s Behind the Ivorian Mercenaries?

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Liberian Police in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County are said to be probing about 76 suspected Ivoirian mercenaries recently arrested inside Liberia, training for military operations. Report received by this paper revealed that the Ivoirians are training inside Liberia to carry out subversive activities against the government of President Allassane Ouattara.

 

Ouattara was sworn in office mid last year following several months of bloody battle against his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo over disputed elections widely believed to have been won by the former. Gbagbo is presently in The Hague, facing trial at the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Though details of the ongoing investigation are yet to be released to the public, we have gathered so far that the Ivoirians allegedly involved crossed into Liberia as refugees during the civil crisis in their country.

We hope strongly that police investigators will reach to the bottom of the probe to establish who provided training grounds for the Ivoirians inside Liberia, and what is the level of collaboration, especially given recent reports of several arrests of huge cache of arms and ammunition in both Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties, including General Machine Guns, Rocket Propelled Grenades and dozens of brand new AK-7 riffles by Liberian border guards last year.

Our apprehension stems from the fact that the ex-Liberian rebel group MODEL, composed predominantly of Grand Gedeans, was heavily supported by former President Gbagbo to invade Liberia through the southeast in their battle to oust the Taylor regime in 2003. During the civil war in Ivory Coast, many Liberians predominantly ex-MODEL fighters reportedly crossed into that country mainly from Grand Gedeh County to fight alongside forces loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo in a demonstration of payback.

Eventually however, Gbagbo was removed from power and sent to The Hague for trial, but members of his Bété ethnic group and other loyalists have vowed to regroup and fight on. What is now obtaining in Grand Gedeh County near the border with Ivory Coast could likely be a repeat of the vicious cycle of reprisal attacks that may be supported by elements on both sides of the border.

Liberian authorities have not linked the direct involvement of any Liberian citizens in the current situation. We hope that would prove so at the end of the ongoing investigation because this country has vowed never to allow any inch of her territories to use for subversive activities against her neighbors. It is in this vein that we raise concern about the source of support or collaboration of the Ivoirian mercenaries so as to remove any and all suspicions that might abound about direct support from Liberia of any cross border attack into neighboring Ivory Coast.

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