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Special Feature

Trans-National Politics & Strange Bedfellows:Liberia’s Love-Affair with La Cote d’Ivoire

Oral, Krahn History teaches that the Kwa-speaking, tribal People of Grand Gedeh County and others of Liberia’s southeast, migrated from the East, the Ivory Coast, now modern Republic of La Cote d’Ivoire.Research evidence shows that Liberian, political administrative sub-divisions or the Counties bordering La Cote d’Ivoire on the northeast/southeast of Liberia share ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural identities, including family and friendly relationships with Ivorian ethnic/tribal citizens of that area.

According to the recent, UN Panel of Experts, “. . . ethno-linguistic ties remain strong . . . between Ivorian Yacouba and Liberian Gio (or Dan) in Nimba County, and between Ivorian Guere and Liberian Krahn in Grand Gedeh County. Thus, it is natural and reasonable that the Peoples of the two sister republics will and shall corporate to develop and maintain peace, security and non-interference in the internal affairs of the other.

Thus, also, when Mr. Charles Taylor and his murderous NPFL invaded Liberia in 1989 from Abidjan and with the aid and support of the Ivorian Government, Liberian refugees were received with open arms in western La Cote d’Ivoire; similarly, the exodus of Ivorian refugees from war in their home were received with open arms by Liberians. Today, there are thousands of Ivorian refugees in Liberia who fled from western, border towns with Liberia.

However, on national, government-to-government relations, there has been and is critical, national peace and security problems of trust and confidence based on review ofrecent facts of Liberian-La Cote d’Ivoire History.In the Article entitled, The Ivory Coast (La Cote d’Ivoire) Connection, Analyst Liberia, June 16, 2014, we observed:

1. The December 24, 1989 Invasion of Liberia

“The near-total destruction of Liberia and its socio-cultural, economic and political order, its infrastructure and the profound human suffering and death were the result of the December 24, 1989, armed invasion of Liberia by the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)”.

“Validated, available evidence shows that Mr. Charles McArthur Taylor and several, other Liberians of the NPFL insurgency gathered and were granted residence in Abidjan and environs, La Cote d’Ivoire, organized, planned and launched the illegal invasion (of Liberia) through the Ivorian/Liberian border town of Logatuo, Nimba County, Liberia, made possible with the knowledge, approval/permission for Ivorian-Liberian border crossing by the government of the Republic of La Cote d’Ivoire.In other words, and in fact, the Government of La Cote d’Ivoire ‘aided and abetted’ this criminal act of armed aggression against the lawful, sovereign, sister 

Republic of Liberia.During this period (December, 1989), theHead of state and government of La Cote d’Ivoire was the late President, HouphouetBoigny, with Mr. AlassaneOuattaraPrime Minister, shortly, in 1990”.

“That the devastating impact of the armed invasion of the Republic of Liberia, particularly, the destruction of villages, town and cities, human suffering and death . . . including Grand Gedeh County targeted, specifically, by the NPFL invasion is history that is so self-evident that it needs no recounting or proof. Liberia made no claims nor preferred charges against the Republic of La Cote d’Ivoire”.

2. The civil War & endless Conflict in La Cote d’Iviore

The on-going, endless civil conflict in La Cote d’Ivoire is the inevitable, home-grown result of that nation’s deadly north-south, socio-cultural, religious, economic and political rivalry –competition/discontent –and rebellion of 2002, led by AlassaneOuattara and Burkinabe` President, Blaise Compaore. The northern rebellion divided, effectively, La Cote d’Ivoire into two governments, administrations, armies and “national” leaders, with the Muslim North controlled by the rebel, Forces Nouvelle, who supported Mr. Ouattara and the larger, more populous, Christian South in the hands of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo. Therefore, thecontroversial elections and results that brought Mr. Ouattara, believed to be citizen of Burkina Faso, to power as President of La Cote d’Ivoire, compounded, cumulatively, the north-south rebellion, discontent and on-going conflict.

3. The Civil War & Human Rights Violations

After months of unsuccessful negotiations and sporadic violence and the elections, the crisis of the conflict entered a critical stage as Ouattara’s forces seized control of most of the country. International organizations reported numerous instances of human rights violations by both sides.

In the city of Duékoué,about18 miles east of the provincial, border (with Liberia) Capital of Guiglo, all Gbagbo strongholds, hundreds of people were estimated to have been killed, predominantly by advancing pro-Ouattara militias. In nearby Blolequin, dozens of people were killed, reportedly by retreating mercenaries or soldiers of fortune, who had been hired by pro-Gbagbo forces. Citizens of this western region of La Cote d’Ivoire of Duekoue`, Guiglo and several Liberian border towns and villages fled the onslaught of armed Burkinabes who took over cocoa, coffee and other farms and properties of the citizens.

The country was severely damaged by the war, and observers consider that it will be a challenge for Ouattara to rebuild the economy and reunite Ivorians.However, rather than seek home-grown, peaceful, rational solution to a home-grown problem, His Excellency Ouattara chose to blame Liberia, particularly, Grand Gedeh County. Ignored or permittedto obtain, over time, the impact is likely to spill over to neighboring or distant countries, as it is now, invite or attract romantic “Soldiers of Fortune” for purely financial gain, without personal and/or ideological considerations in these days of “conspicuous consumption”, instant travel, carefree, adventurous counter-culture prevalent worldwide,as if Grand Gedeh County, Liberia, has a monopoly of soldiers of fortune. Why not blame La Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana, also neighboring countries?

4. Meanwhile, the Republic of Liberia

Eighteen (18) citizens of Grand GedehCounty were arrested in 2011 by the government of Liberia andindicted for multiple crimes of “mercenarism, murder, rape, arson and theft-of-property”. They werekept in detention for three years while being prosecuted at three, different trials on amended indictments, characterized by charges, counter-charges of bribery, jury-tempering with offers of plea-bargaining to become state witness in order to ensure guilty verdict. In an earlier article, we reacted in response to the most recent, last trial and “acquittal” of 5 and “unanimous” conviction of 13 of the 18 Grand Gedeh County/Liberian citizens, finally charged with mercenarismand prosecuted on the same set of evidence, according to defense attorneys.

We noted that this case has been treated as “political case” by our government; for,the leading prosecuting attorney, according to the New Democrat (New Democrat, June 16, 2014), in his final argument, told the jury that “Liberia will be attacked by Cote d’Iviore if the jury finds the defendants “not guilty” and noted that “you do not want to be responsible for war between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire”. Is this evidence? Of course not. Butthis case is a “must-win-by all-means and at all costs legal engagement” to pay off an illegal debt”, and a regional, political power-play to support, protect and please HisExcellency,the Chair of ECOWAS and his pal, His Excellency, the President of Burkina Faso.

According to recent facts of the political history of Liberia, La Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, this pair of ExcellencesAided and Abettedformer, Liberian President Taylor in his illegal invasion whichbrought the Republic of Liberia to its knees by the mind-boggling destruction and death.The “trial and conviction” of Grand Gedeans are not only the continuation of the tradition of the Charles Taylor’s “witch-hunt” policy against the people of Grand Gedeh County (“trial, conviction” and imprisonment for 20 years on “politically-motivated, one size-fits-all” charge of Treason/Sedition of 13 Grand Gedeans in 1999, but also a reward-payment for the use of their respective territorial jurisdictions as staging grounds from which the insurgents, which now constitute the major ruling government, launched the deadly invasion in 1989.

Moreover, this conviction of the 13 citizens of Grand Gedeh County by an apparent, ill-informed jury confirmed former Internal Affairs Minister,Honorable Morris Dukuly’s“Krahn peopleare mercenaries and trouble-makers”public declaration.

What lawful favor, socio-economic and political, have the governments of La Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso ever done but mind-boggling plunder, destruction, human suffering and death to the Republic of Liberia?

Now, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of the Hague, The Netherlands(the Court which tried and convicted former, Liberian President Taylor and others for Crimes against Humanity and he is now serving a 50-year, prison term), has now issued an Indictment against His Excellency, Blaise Compaore, former President and General of the armed forces of Burkina Faso and the Liberian Special Forces of the insurgent NPFL, led by former Field Marshall, General Prince Johnson, now Senior Senator, Nimba County.Reportedly, Excellency Blaise Compaore is now hiding out in La Cote d’Ivoire.

At the recent Joint Chiefs& Elders Meeting held in Guiglo, La Cote d’Ivoire, Excellency AlassaneOuattara offered to negotiate with UN Secretary-General for UNMIL extension to remain in Liberia until after the 2017 elections. This proposal, in our view, is a ploy to gain favor and political IOU in Liberia.But we know that the current President of Liberia has earned more than adequate influence and clout in and with individual personalities of the UN and related organizations of the international community.Let us beware of “wise men & women from the East bearing gifts”.


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