Table of Content
Background to the Outbreak of Civil War in Liberia
The Limitation of ECOWAS and OAU Instrument of Conflict Resolution
The United Nations Intervention in the Liberian Conflict
The United Nations Agenda In Resolving The Liberian Conflict
Introduction Liberia became independent on duly 26, 1847 as a small republic of immigrant Americans on the coast traditionally called the “Grain Coast”. Thus it is considered the oldest African independent State except Ethiopia. Liberia is the only state in Sub-Sahara Africa that was never subject to colonial rule1.
Before the immigration, which led to the creation of Liberia, the largely forested area now covered by the Liberia state was people by various Ethnic groups that form the overwhelming majority of the population today. Monrovia was founded in 1822 by black America colonists sent by the American colonization society. Monrovia and other settlements founded by the American colonization society were never ruled by the U.S government.
The American Liberia fought war for nearly a century with indigenous people, whom they called “Aborigines or Tribesmen”. Among the America Liberians there was a power struggle between the “Mulatoes” or people of partly white birth, of whom president Roberts and Tubman was the leading members and those of pure African dissent2.
In 1944 William U.S. Tubman (1895-1971) a lawyer and senator, became president. He held office for 27 years. President Tubman made considerable progress towards reducing the legal and effective discrimination between America Liberians and “Tribesmen”. Political rights were extended to the latter. But under Tubman the supreme power of America Liberia of their few Aristocratic families, and of the True Wig Party (TWP was left unchanged). There were very few tribe ministers under him.
Tubman died in Britain on July 23 1971 he was strongly anti Communist, though he allowed the opening of relations with the USSR in 1956.
On the death of Tubman, Vice President William Tolbert automatically succeeded him. He was re-elected in 1975 and 1979. But announced that he would not stand again in 1983. President Tolbert frequently showed concern for the ordinary people. Among the many official slogans which were a distinguishing features of his regime was “Mat to Mattresses”3.
In 1979 Dr Tolbert showed the fairness and sense of justice for which he has come to be reputed by refusing to grant reprieve to two men of top America Liberian elite, son of true Wig Party (TWP) Chairman James Anderson and of former Vice President Yancy Sentenced to death.
From 1977 the close relations between Liberia and Sierra Leone were strengthened by the Mano River Union, under which major projects were agreed on to develop closer link. In 1975 Joined the new Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS). A Liberian Dr A Romeo Horton was managing Director of ECOWAS fund.
Relations with other countries were little changed under President Tolbert close relations with the U.S.A were illustrated by the big reception given to president carter on his visit in May 1978.
The 1970 was one such period of economic difficulty it was also a decade that witnessed the initiation of a national discussion of issues of social justice and equality and of the imperatives of democracy. Inquiring opposition groups emerged to engage the government. . The leadership of President Tolbert (1971 – 80) was problematic oscillating between a disposition to change and the maintenance of the status quo. A political vacuum was created.
On April 12 1980, a military coup was staged under the leadership of Samuel Doe, and for the first time the indigenous groups were in power. President Doe filled his ranks with people from his own ethnic group, the Krahns4.
Given the unprecedented nature of the coup and the excesses of its violence, as well as the unwillingness of the conservative elements of the old order to accept change, there were many observers who concluded that the act was revolutionary and that a profound social transformation would be sent in train. Others asserted that Liberia has experienced de-colonization from “black colonialism”. The meaning of this admittedly historic event was that the way was now clear for the replacement of settler minority rule by indigenous majority rule.5
But such a hopeful prospect was not to be, Liberia was too heavy with history to conform to what has proven to be simplistic assumption about it politics and society. Following a period of initial uncertainty by an inexperience military government and it civilian political enablers (the movement for justice in Africa (MOJA) and people progressive party (PPP).
The process of sorting out the imperative of a return to civilian rule was soon under way. Largely in response to pressure from the U.S government which was bankrolling the military regime in keeping with America Cold War requirement, a new constitution was drafted, approved through referendum, and under it election was held on the 15th October 19856. There is ample documentation that the elections were rigged and that the incumbent military leader, Doe, who was declared the winner of the presidency actually stole the election.
With the elections fraud endorsed by the American administration on the protest that such was the way of Africa politics.7.
Deep disappointment set in. General Quinwonkpa attempted his coup and its failure cost him his life, Brutal and massive repression ensued Liberia of Wimba Origin bore the brunt of Does brutality because of the slaine General Quinwonkpa’s country of origin8.
On December 24 1989 a small group of rebels attacked the border town of Butuo in Nimba County as a first step towards the overthrow of the Doe government. The rebels were the National patriotic front of Liberia (NPFL) headed by Charles Taylor.