Now, I will welcome assistance as we go along:
"Liberia's response to allegations of her involvement in the Sierra Leone civil war and dismisses such accusations as an international conspiracy spearheaded by the United States and Britain in an attempt to internationally isolate, economically destroy, and politically destabilise the government of the Republic of Liberia. Presented by the Deputy of Minister of Information, Milton Teahjay, London, United Kingdom, 25 January 1999.
The government of the Republic of Liberia has, over the past new months, come under intense international pressure, largely spearheaded by the governments of the United States and Britain, alleging, inter alia, that Liberia is fuelling the Sierra Leonean crisis by supplying arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Tejan Kabbah. Liberia has also been accused of secretly committing fighting forces on the side of the rebels and has allegedly granted safe haven to some top AFRC/RUF officials in Monrovia.
The Liberian government has categorically and repeatedly denied any military involvement in Sierra Leone. Liberia has also rejected and described as ridiculous the notion that she will be involved in attempts to destabilise any of her neighbours, including Sierra Leone. The Liberian government has gone beyond mere denials and has proposed numerous options by which the allegations of her involvement could be disproved, including, among other things, the contribution of a joint United Nations-ECOMOG border patrol contingent to monitor troop movements and the setting up of an international body of inquiry by the United Nations Secretary-General to investigate these accusations.
At the core of the onslaught against Liberia by the United States and Britain is the demonstrated failure and unquestionable inability of the two countries to evidentially prove their allegations against Liberia. Despite repeated challenges to authenticate their claims, the British and Americans have only relied on rumours, speculations and a massive disinformation campaign intended to internationally isolate, economic strangulate, and diplomatically destroy Liberia, and by so doing to successfully disintegrate ECOMOG, which has earned the success story of an African capacity to solve an African military problem in Liberia, culminating in the ushering in of a broad-based democratically elected government headed by Charles Taylor as President.
Interestingly, the Americans and the British have depended only on the uncorroborated accounts of Sierra Leonean government officials, especially her Finance Minister James Jonah, a well connected veteran of the United Nations system who meticulously uses his connections in the world body to scapegoat Liberia by deliberately ignoring the irrefutable evidence of American and British complicity calculated to destabilise Sierra Leone by the use of private arms and individuals.
Objectives of Document
Fundamentally the purpose of this document is to carefully provide a detailed account of Liberia's efforts, nationally and internationally, to bring peace to the government and people of Sierra Leone and remove the existing notion that Liberia is providing arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels. Further, the document intends to undermine future efforts by western countries, especially Britain and the United States, aimed at playing one ECOWAS country against the other ... ECOWAS as a sub-regional economic and political organisation in substantially ... in its future capacity to cohesively deal with subsequent political and/or military problems in any member state.
Also the document attempts to expose the manner in which international conspiracy of disinformation, lies and deceit, spearheaded by stronger powers, can destroy smaller and weaker countries, even in the face of the lack of material evidence of any kind to prove the allegations against the weaker and smaller nations.
And finally, the document seeks to call the attention of some other reasonable members of the international community to the need to pressure the countries accusing Liberia to go beyond empty circumstantial and unsubstantiated speculations by providing material evidence in support of their allegations.
Who is supplying arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels in Sierra Leone?
As far as physical evidence available to the international community is concerned, it is Britain, the former colonial master of Sierra Leone, that is supplying arms to the forces of seeking the ouster of the Kabbah government through private British companies and individuals. Using plausible deniability, however, the British government has successfully disassociated itself from any involvement in the shipment of arms to the Sierra Leonean rebels. Specifically involved in the arms trade on behalf of the British government are two British firms owned and operated by retired British military generals, who, is it alleged, have strong connections with the British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Sky Air Cargo of London and Occidental Airlines, partly owned by a British pilot, are at the centre of supplying arms to the AFRC RUF rebels.
It must be noted that Mr Cook's involvement in arms trade has a history. Last year Robin Cook quickly came to the defence of Sky Air Cargo when that company was implicated in arms trafficking to government forces for the restoration of President Kabbah. Mr Cook has always been the first in the British Government to put up defences for private arms dealers to the rebels in Sierra Leone whenever such practice becomes scandalous and publicly embarrassing.
Is Liberia supporting the AFRC/RUF rebels?
The Government of Liberia has consistently and categorically denied providing any form of support, military, political or otherwise, to the AFRC/RUF rebels fighting the government of President Tejan Kabbah. As a matter of fact, Liberia at many international forums has repeatedly declared that it recognises the Kabbah administration as the sole legitimate and constitutional political authority of the Republic of Sierra Leone and as such would do nothing to thwart and/or overthrow the democratic will of the Sierra Leonean people by subverting their choice of government.
Additionally, except for colonial boundaries dividing Liberia and Sierra Leone, Liberia has consistently maintained that the people of the two countries are one and identical, politically and culturally. The traditional relationship between Liberians and Sierra Leoneans was so vividly manifested by Sierra Leone's acceptance of thousands of Liberian refugees during the Liberian conflict, reciprocated by Liberia's acceptance of thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees over the past months.
Have the Americans and British provided any evidence that Liberia supports the AFRC/RUF rebels?
The governments of the United States and Britain, despite international pressure demanding material evidence to substantiate their allegations against Liberia, have been unable to back their charges. For the United States and Britain, providing material evidence to prove an allegation has been effectively replaced by misinformation, propaganda and a war of words. They are attempting to reinvent the universal wheels of justice by replacing the provision of evidence to back allegations by the use of propaganda and disinformation. They believe that might makes right.
Realistically, Liberia is being scapegoated by Britain and America, masking their involvement by using private British firms and secret American military advisers to fuel the war in Sierra Leone. Liberia has become blameworthy because the new political authority in Monrovia is not dancing to the dictates of Washington and London. This British and American desperation was so clearly manifested when they, in a rather ridiculous manner, erroneously accused Liberia of making territorial claims against Sierra Leonean territory.
Furthermore, intelligence reports from diplomatic quarters speak of a covert plan afoot to destabilise the Government of Guinea and subsequently blame the same on Liberia. Evidently, Liberia is a classic victim of a well-coordinated ... contrived international conspiracy calculated to internationally and diplomatically isolate and economically stifle the country's national reconstruction programme, hoping that in the final analysis domestic political discontent will ensue, which could lead to civil unrest and thereby make the country ungovernable. The ultimate game plan of the British and Americans to install a puppet regime in Liberia that would look after the commercial interests of Britain and American companies operating in the sub-region should their plan succeed.
Practical steps by Liberia to bring peace to Sierra Leone:
1. In the ECOWAS sub-region Liberia is the immediate past beneficiary of collective sub-regional initiatives politically and militarily after seven years of brutal civil war. A peace plan brokered by ECOWAS and supported by all parties in the Liberian crisis used dialogue as the foundation for what later became a politically negotiated settlement of the Liberian problem. Drawing from the experience, Liberia has repeatedly and diplomatically encouraged President Tejan Kabbah to engage with the AFRC/RUF rebels in a political dialogue, since historically political problems have never been resolved by military means.
2. In support of Liberia's proposal for dialogue between the Government of Sierra Leone and the AFRC/RUF, the Liberian government proposed, supported, and subsequently participated in, at least three regional summits attended by both Presidents Kabbah and Taylor. The first summit was held under the joint auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General Annan and ECOWAS Chairman, Nigeria Head of State General Abubakar in Abuja, Nigeria. At that summit both Presidents agreed to work together in finding a politically negotiated solution to the Sierra Leonean problem and signed a joint communique in respect of their collective disposition.
3. Following the Abuja summit, and based on Liberia's urging for the second time, the governments of the United States, represented by President Clinton's envoy to Africa, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, convened a second meeting between President Taylor of Liberia and President Kabbah of Sierra Leone in Monrovia. The Monrovia Summit was fundamentally attended to achieve two goals: One, to build more confidence between the two leaders; two, to ensure that the focus on resolving the problem in Sierra Leone was not lost in the midst of other sub-regional distractions, as in the case of the Guinea-Bissau crisis. At the Monrovia Summit both Presidents signed another communique reaffirming their respective commitments to bringing peace to Sierra Leone.
4. In continuation of Liberia's efforts towards resolving the problems in Sierra Leone a third summit was called in Conakry, Guinea, by President Lansana Conte within the framework and spirit of the Mano River Union protocols. At that meeting, President Taylor informed President Kabbah of Liberia's continued disposition to remain actively engaged diplomatically and politically until peace is restored to the brotherly people of Sierra Leone.
5. On the military front, the Liberian border with Sierra Leone has been well fortified so as to prevent any situation where remaining AFRC/RUF rebels could contemplate the use of the Liberian side of the border to launch hit-and-run military operations into Sierra Leone. Because of this preventative measure, the Liberian side of the border has remained absolutely calm from any military activity.
And finally, in an attempt to ensure international verification of Liberia's neutrality in the Sierra Leone crisis, the Liberian government has invited the United Nations, the OAU, and ECOWAS to send a joint observer mission at the border that would monitor the movement of forces from both the Liberian and Sierra Leonean sides of the border. To this date, such verification has yet to be put in place.
Are there Liberians fighting in the Sierra Leone war?
Unfortunately, yes. There are Liberians fighting on both sides of the military it divide: One group on the side of the government, and the other on the side of the AFRC rebels respectively. The involvement of mercenary Liberians in Sierra Leone appears to be the only concrete evidence being paraded by Sierra Leone in the international community as constituting proof of Liberia's involvement in the war without explaining how, why, when, and who invited them.
Up to the present, the Government of Sierra Leone has managed to cleverly evade and deliberately avoid any public explanation as to how these mercenary Liberians got involved, why, and who enlisted them in the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Absurd as it appears, one wonders if it is normal practice for a sitting government to recruit the nationals of another country into the national security apparatus.
During the early years of the RUF incursion in Sierra Leone in 1992, Liberia was already embroiled in a brutal civil war which resulted in massive social dislocation of her citizens into Sierra Leone as refugees. While in Sierra Leone, some of the Liberian refugees organised themselves and formed what came to be known as ULIMO, one of the factions in the just-ended Liberian conflict. It was claimed that these refugees had organised ULIMO as a counterbalance resistance movement to the then NPFL.
But as the RUF made significant advances against government forces in the field, the constitutional government of President Momoh approved a strategic military engagement plan which, inter alia, envisaged a military partnership between generals in the Sierra Leone Armed Forces to help prosecute the war against the RUF, and in return the Momoh administration would give permission to ULIMO for the use of Sierra Leone territory for training and other military activities into Liberia. Interestingly, all this took place while Sierra Leone was ostensably, but pretentiously, participating in peacekeeping operations in Liberia within ECOMOG with the view of restoring peace there.
In the midst of this military pact President Momoh was overthrown in a military coup by Captain Valentine Strasser, who inherited and gratefully embraced the strategic military engagement plan. Captain Strasser remained the ULIMO-Sierra Leone Army pact and used it for continuous prosecution of the war against the RUF. Captain Strasser after a few years also became victim when he was toppled by Maada Bio, who also inherited the situation, and finally following the election of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah he also took up the military mess which three of his prodecessors created - and which subsequently toppled his government - and joined forces with the RUF, thereby creating what is now referred to as the AFRC/RUF rebellion.
Clearly, Liberians who are fighting in Sierra Leone are there on the account of the Government of Sierra Leone and not on orders of the Liberian government as is being misleadingly and mischievously floated around the world by the Government of Sierra Leone.
The government of the Republic of Liberia reaffirms its respect for and commitment to respecting all international protocols and conventions to which she is a signatory regarding the conduct of rebellions between warring sovereign states.
The Republic of Liberia recognises the sovereignty of the Republic of Sierra Leone as a member state of the OAU, ECOWAS and a Mano River Union and the right of its citizens to self-determination.
The Liberian government reiterates that it has absolutely no military involvement in supplying arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels fighting the Government of Sierra Leone and has no intention to do so now or in the future.
Liberia also calls on Britain and the United States to immediately stop fuelling the war in Sierra Leone through the use of private American and British firms and individuals.
As a matter of national sovereignty and integrity, Liberia will not allow herself to be used as the beachhead to macromanage and regulate the politics and economies of the ECOWAS sub-region in the interest of western multinational corporations.
Finally, the Government of Liberia will remain engaged diplomatically and politically in the search for lasting peace in Sierra Leone through dialogue and negotiations as the means of achieving a political settlement of the problem."
Now, Mr Taylor, we see that this white paper is published in The New National newspaper. How wide was the coverage given to it in Liberia?