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Published 21st July 2000

Vol 41 No 15


Liberia

Cross-border crisis

Guinea and Sierra Leone are paying back the Taylor regime for its rebel sponsorship. But their operations could spin out of control

Self-proclaimed guerrilla maestro Charles Taylor is in a bind. The border wars between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, stoked by the Liberian President, are rebounding on his government. Variously-named Liberian rebel groups have crossed from Guinea into Liberia's north-west Lofa County, capturing the main provincial town of Voinjama. Presidents Lansana Conté of Guinea and Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone have lost patience with Taylor and the Liberian-sponsored dissidents and are tolerating, if not actively encouraging, Liberian rebel groups operating from their countries. Taylor accuses Britain and the United States of orchestrating a rebellion against his regime. There are, of course, denials all round. There has been heavy fighting around Voinjama and Taylor's forces have had trouble pushing back the rebels. Lofa County is Liberia's bread-basket and the main transit route into Sierra Leone for Taylor's allies in the Revolutionary United Front. Lofa's refugee camps host several thousand Sierra Leoneans and Guineans, including RUF fighters and their families. Liberian military sources claim that SLR rifles, supplied by Britain to the pro-Kabbah forces in Freetown, have turned up in the hands of anti-Taylor rebels.


Multi-party Mugabe

The President has appointed some capable reformers but will he let them do the job?

Real multi-party politics started raucously in Harare's parliament on 18 July, with both sides breaking into song after the election of former Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa a...


The Bouteflika paradox

The President has gained a grip on power but distrubs liberals and power-brokers

Abdelaziz Bouteflika has consolidated his power, exploiting the public's longing for peace to give substance to his presidency (AC Vol 41 No 4). However, an upsurge in Islamist vio...


Talking left, acting right

Social democracy and free market economics are eating into the ruling party's identity

The African National Congress has emerged from its national general council, held in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth on 11-15 July, looking more like the Western-style social de...



Pointers

Moving goalposts

General Robert Gueï's junta aims to set up a civilian regime before the end of the year, but is not even in full control of its own army. The referendum on a new constitution,...


Cash yes, reform?

Promises of dollops of money at the Consultative Group meeting in Lusaka on 16-18 July (AC Vol 41 No 14) dispelled fears that Finance Minister Katele Kalumba was about to be axed. ...


Call the ex-marines

Washington's State Department has just approved an application by the Virginia-based Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) for a licence to assess Equatorial Guinea's require...