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Published 23rd June 2000

Vol 41 No 13


Godfather to the rebels

Dealing with Charles Taylor is key to any peace settlement. The question is, how?

The latest spate of sabre rattling between Monrovia and Freetown signals the final unravelling of the Sierra Leone peace accord signed in Lomé last July. The governments of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Charles Taylor are each accusing the other of preparing an invasion force. Both sides have been moving troops towards their common border for 'security reasons'. A key plank in the Lomé accord was that Liberia and its President would play a constructive role in persuading Corporal Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front to abide by the accord, surrendering its arms in exchange for jobs in a power-sharing government. That element of the accord, at least, relied heavily on mutual self-delusion. That has been stripped away since the collapse of the accord and Sankoh's arrest last month (AC Vol 41 No 12). Yet Taylor remains, whatever Freetown says, key to any settlement in Sierra Leone. The end of diplomatic-speak between Monrovia and Freetown won't have an immediate bearing on the military situation. Neither side is ready for a massive escalation of the proxy war between Taylor's forces and Sierra Leone that has raged for nine years, two years longer than Liberia's own civil war. Of the two, Taylor's forces still have the means and the men to face down Kabbah's shaky coalition of pro-government forces in a border war. Liberian Defence Minister Daniel Chea is accurate in his claim that Sierra Leone could not, currently, win a war with its neighbour.

Hall of Mirrors

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The Khartoum regime is brutal and repressive but the UN may lift sanctions

The National Islamic Front government's bid to get United Nations sanctions lifted and claim a seat at the international table is reaching a climax. It could well succeed. Yet as A...

He smiles and smiles

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'We must have a calculated move to remove the sanctions'. This, Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told the Sudanese newspaper El Rai el Aam on 8 June, was what he and Sudan's U...

The national question

General Gueï' still hasn't decided whether Ouattara can run in the presidential polls

The battle of the conjunctions has been joined. The conjunctions in question are 'ou' and 'et'. They are dominating political debate in Abidjan. Behind it is the constitutional que...

The military-metropolitan team

In Paris, General Robert Gueï is supported by a troop of retired generals who have gone into business. Most prominent is Gen. Jeannou Lacaze, Chief of Staff of the French army...

Kérékou, no coup

Despite economic woe, the Beninese may give President Kérékou yet another chance

Spiralling fuel price rises, a troublesome cotton privatisation and a strong whiff of institutional corruption mean President Mathieu Kérékou should worry about his r...


After Kisangani

After the third, bloodiest, confrontation between the armies of Uganda and Rwanda on 5-10 June, Kisangani has now officially been demilitarised. The United Nations Special Represen...

Time to talk

The Somali National Peace Conference in Djibouti finished six weeks of initial consultations and moved on last week to phase two (AC Vol 41 No 7). Hundreds of participants (some pi...

Time of reckoning

The agreement signed on 18 June in Algiers has little to recommend it to Eritrea. Only after a comprehensive peace agreement - still some way off - is the Eritrean-Ethiopian border...