I spent most of December 23 with an injured ankle up no the railing, mourning the fact that I would not be fit to travel to Guinea, to cover the coup emerging from the death of former president Lansana Conté.
This, however, allowed plans of five magical days camping along Liberia’s remote southern coast (walking assistance included). Readjusting to the snarling life of Monrovia, this is the news on Guinea.
Full details on whose support falls where in Guinea still remain scarce, but this article from Al-Jazeera gives a fairly decent overview. BBC has this article, which highlights the African Union’s (AU) decision to place a temporary ban on Guinea, following its protocol to not recognize coup’s as a legitimate means of changing government. South African Star has just reported there will be Guinean elections in 2010, and 1 hour ago, BBC reported that a new PM has been named. (No other reports have confirmed either of these as of yet.)
This news has captured much interest in Liberia, where violence along its borders have brought much violence to the country.
Liberia and its West African neighbours have a shaky history of border control. Mercenary activity and border incursions have been common instigators of conflict. Charles Taylor launched an international group of fighters from beyond the border of Ivory Coast over Christmas 1989, putting into progress 14 years of civil war; 2001 saw the Guinean-backed (and harboured) Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) launch an offensive on Taylor-held Liberia ; and Taylor himself remains on trial in the Hague for supplying Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) with weapons and fighters in exchange for diamonds.
Governments ignoring, sympathizing, or encouraging military activity within their borders has had real consequences throughout the Manu River Union (MRU) of Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Liberian leaders know very well the importance of securing peace along the borders, and that avoiding any escalation of conflict in neighbouring countries remains in their best interest.
“Our appeal to all Liberians is to stay out of Guinea and let them resolve [the situation] in a peaceful way, and don’t get involved in it” the New Democrat Newspaper quoted President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as saying on the weekend, in reference to reports that Liberian mercenaries had begun trawling for job offers along the country’s northwestern borders, hoping to find interest in the current interim government.
Increased border control has been instated at Sirleaf’s request, with all main entries to Guinea reported to be more or less closed to all traffic. The Liberian government have requested the UN’s mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to assist in tightening up what Sirleaf and others call a ‘porous’ border.
Peace, like violence, as been contagious in the region. Preventing ex-fighters from entering Guinea will be essential to allowing the peacebuilding process to continue in the MRU.
2 weeks ago