Behind UK’s Security Warnings on Liberia

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The British Government says the Liberian National Police "has very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country," and warns its citizens to avoid public demonstrations and protests. Flashback: Protesting University of Liberia students set a tyre ablaze on Tubman Boulevard, Capitol Hill, between the university and the Foreign Ministry, which houses the office of President George Weah.

Pending protests, threats by ex-rebel generals, Charles & Agnes Taylor, possible terrorist infiltration from around sub-region, grounds for concern

It would appear that the recent threatening remarks by ex-rebel generals, which were later rescinded, against Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah, may have been nothing much but another round of rough talk from one ex-rebel to another. However, in Liberia’s volatile political context, the very re-emergence of the ex-rebel fighters appears to be the principal factor that prompted the British Government to issue a security alert for its citizens ahead of the planned June 7 “peaceful protest,” the Daily Observer has reliably learned.

A fortnight ago, over 25 ex-rebel generals and fighters were said to have received an undisclosed amount of money from the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill for them to go after people, who are “constantly criticizing President George Weah for his poor handling of the country’s affairs.

It was apparently in furtherance of their plans that on April 16, 2019, the ex-generals publicly declared they have an obligation to support  President Weah, and “whosoever that will come after the President, let that person(s) be aware that we will support the President.”

The statement was attributed to G. Benjamin Taylor, a former chief of staff of the former rebel of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).

Also during the press conference, Daniel Bracewell, a former major general of the AFL, warned politicians to avoid anything that will disrupt the peace in Liberia, or else they will have themselves to blame.

“We ex-generals, we know war, we fought the war, we make war, we study war. If anyone thinks that they are coming in to derail this peace process, they will have us to contend with,” said Bracewell.

In the wake of their threat to politicians, the self-proclaimed chair of the ex-fighters, and former chief of staff of the rebel faction, Liberia United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Ofori Diah issued a so-called 72-hour ultimatum to Montserrado County lawmaker Yekeh Kolubah to report to the cabal of ex-rebel generals, noting that he is also a former general and must adhere to their summon.

This newspaper has meanwhile gathered from a high placed source that it was based on the ex-rebel fighters threat that the British Government declared officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) “have a very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country,” and warned its citizens to avoid public demonstrations and protests.

Ahead of the major protest planned for June 7, the United Kingdom (UK) has therefore, renewed a warning to its citizens in Liberia of possible indiscriminate terrorist attacks and the transmission and symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD). The Travel and Living Abroad warning by the UK urges its citizens to, among other things, specifically avoid protests, demonstrations, large gatherings and crowds in Monrovia and its environs.

The UK’s travel alerts to its citizens, updated March 22 and is “still current as of May 5, 2019,” does not specifically mention the pending June 7 protest.

However, the first paragraph of the UK’s alert reads: “Protests and demonstrations do take place in Monrovia on occasion. You should avoid protests, demonstrations, large gatherings and crowds and follow the advice of local authorities.”

Travel alerts are routine releases of information by countries seeking the wellbeing of their citizens traveling, working or living abroad. They are updated regularly and help expatriates in their host countries find their bearings, especially in terms of security and medical emergencies.

However, the UK maintains that large public gatherings with political undertones, such as the expected protest on June 7, and other demonstrations of activism, may become possible cover for terrorists to carry out their evil agendas. The UK government is reiterating its warnings that law enforcement authorities, mainly the LNP “has very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country.”

But our source said one other reason for the UK’s concern could be the arrest, subsequent trial and detention of Liberia former President Charles Taylor, and Taylor’s ex wife, Agnes Reeves-Taylor.

Though she has denied a string of torture charges, including one relating to a woman witnessing the shooting of her two children, while she was tied up, the British Government maintains Agnes Taylor is guilty of the charges.

Agnes Taylor is also accused of conspiring to use rape to torture women during the country’s civil war in 1990. Another allegation states that she was involved in the torture of a child, who was tied to a tree and witnessed the shooting of others.

PACA Defends Agnes Taylor

Recently, an advocacy group, the Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACA), called on the government and its British counterpart to release Agnes Taylor, who has been incarcerated for close to two years in a British jail.

Mr. Taylor and Agnes Reeves-Taylor are currently jailed in British prisons. Taylor was convicted on seven counts to include aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sierra Leone, while Agnes was on the other hand prosecuted for crimes allegedly committed in Liberia during the crisis, also on eight counts.

According to PACA, the charges of torture and alleged war crime offenses in Liberia, for which Agnes Taylor is held, “are unsubstantiated and cannot be proven.”

LNP: “We are equipped”

As regards the LNP’s incapacity to prevent or detect crime, and or provide emergency response to violent activity in any part of the country to any, LNP spokesman, H. Moses Carter disclaimed that assertion, adding, “We are equipped.”

“The LNP is equipped to prevent any eventuality; we have proactive means of professionally engaging protestors, taking cue from two successive demonstrations, which the Police handled without report of any incident,” Carter said.

According to him, “The LNP is prepared using conventional (crowd control) mechanisms. So, for anyone or institution to think that this Police is not equipped or prepared to contain any eventuality, that person or institution must think twice.”   

But the UK appears to be very concerned about possible terrorist infiltration of what might otherwise be considered peaceful protests, such as the one planned for June 7.  According to the security alert, “Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Liberia,” citing the proximity of incidents in the fairly recent past in Burkina Faso, Mali and neighboring Côte d’Ivoire. Terrorist groups continue to mount attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners. You should be vigilant in these locations and avoid any crowded places and public gatherings or events.”

The UK further warns about “a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.” However, concerning the political situation in Liberia, the UK also notes that because former Liberian President Charles Taylor is serving a long prison sentence in the UK following his conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, British nationals may be subject to reprisal attacks.

“Attacks could be indiscriminate. You should be vigilant, especially in places visited by foreigners,” the UK warns.

The UK also warns that the threat of exposure to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) still exists as most medical facilities throughout Liberia are unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the UK. It also warns that medical facilities in rural areas are rudimentary and most facilities require payment up-front for treatment.

It added: “Avoid traveling at night outside Monrovia, except to or from Roberts International Airport (RIA). Make sure you have pre-arranged transport from the airport. The small British Embassy in Monrovia can only offer limited consular assistance. If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy consulate or high commission. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.”

For a country reeling from investor fatigue due to corruption and unpredictability; and with an economy in the throes of spiraling inflation and predominant dependence on foreign imports, there is no telling the magnitude of effect the terroristic threats of these ex-rebel generals might have on Liberia. The British government has spoken. Just Monday, May 6, the US Embassy noted that it is “unacceptable for… ‘ex-generals’ or other former actors in Liberia’s civil wars to incite unlawful acts through ill-considered rhetoric that could jeopardize Liberia’s hard-won peace and security.”

“And we have the Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill, to thank for this,” our source said.

13 COMMENTS

  1. A wise person once said, “A smooth sea never makes a skilled captain.”

    The late President William R. Tolbert used to call Liberia, “A wholesome functioning society.” It seems the antithesis to that unifying statement is: Liberia is becoming “A wholesome dysfunctional Society.”

    The horrible state of Liberia’s economy is creating unbearable tension between the haves (the 1% government officials) and the have-not (the 99% ordinary Liberian citizens)!

    If nothing is done to alleviate the current massive economic hardship, and curtail the massive corruption, Liberia will be on the verge of returning to the land of chaos and confusion; to the land of disunity; to the land of tribalism; to the land of cronyism, and last but not the least, to the land of lawlessness.
    Where there is lawlessness, all types of shady characters find opportunities to create chaos and confusion.

    This is the time for President Weah to take charge (to lead, to lead, to lead) before all hell breaks loose.
    There are too many captains (the President Surrogates/ his so-called trusted lieutenants) who are carelessly trying to steer this “sinking ship” called Liberia in the wrong direction.

    As the wise person once said, “A smooth sea does not make a skilled captain.” I wonder who is the skilled captain on this “sinking ship” called Liberia?

    Only time will tell! Our Western Allies are warning their citizens!!!

    • I cannot believe that all this noise and seemingly instability is coming out of a CDC led government! It breaks my heart. After thirteen/fourteen years of hard work and preparations to take leadership role and to relieve the people of Liberia from their fears and anxieties brought about by uncertainties, poverty, ignorance, and disease, it seems that Ambassador Weah is repeating the mistakes from the past, this time, with steroids.

      How does he break out of this quagmire when, indeed, he has the very people who had been saying that he is a fool, ignorant, and uneducated, around him as his principal advisors and inner circle?! Where is the political savvy to have people of substance and astute men and women of upright character around him for guidance and advice? Why squander your political capital and the good name you have built for yourselve from scratch since the days of Soniwen and Geeplata in Monrovia? Why is it so difficult to think about?

  2. When Barack Obama became president of the US, the economy of the US was in a tank. There were all kinds of demands for Obama to fix the economy. What happened three years later in Obama’s government? The US economy picked up steam. Unemployment dipped. Many jobs became available. The important point to be made is if it took roughly three years in order for the world’s most advanced country to turn things around economically, I think it makes sense for some Liberians and the opposition to calm down a second.

    The chanting of anti-Weah slogans is unhelpful and destabilizing. I do not suggest that the Liberian people or the opposition should shut their mouths completely. Of course not. In a democracy, people have a right to express themselves. It seems that too many unnecessary demands are being made. The Liberian society will only become dysfunctional if the opposition does not cool its rhetoric.

    • Liberia isn’t the United States. Period . The 2008 meltdown that saw the US economy in tumbled and saw investors panicking was mainly due to the housing crisis where US banks and others investment institutions took in more loans than could not be guaranteed by the US government under its housing program meant to encourage Americans to own their homes as first time buyers. To revive the US economy and create jobs, the Obama administration pumped very close to one trillion dollars in the economy. Something the former Vice President Joe Biden referred to as “shovel ready “. On the other hand and in an effort to strengthen the Liberian dollar in a so-called exercise to mop out the old and unwanted currency, the exercise as some have come to know ended in financial corruption. Instead of the moped up exercise strengthening the Liberian dollar , the Liberian dollar further became depreciated against the US dollar due to the financial corruption of the 25 million US dollars. The US economy grew at 3 percentage points under the Obama administration. There after it was 1 percent, 1.2 percent. The African American communities were hit the hardest in jobs growth. The Chinese economy was growing faster than expected, and there were fear that the Chinese economy would overtake the US economy. Someone like me do support the protest. But was hoping that the protests would take on national political issues. Like using the protest to see that the next Presidential and legislative elections time of office be reduced. No more six years, or nine years. The protesters are saying that they are not interested in forcing the regime out of office. But reducing the term of office is one way to see that the presidency remains very effective in the multi-party democracy . A form of low level political rebellion, especially when things are not going in the right direction. But for now , the protesters see bread and butter in a hardship economy as the main issue than the political issues of term reduction or decentralization. The Anointed One as President is inexperienced, the Foreign Minister is inexperienced, the Finance Minister is inexperienced in dealing with global economic and financial issues that would allow one to trust the regime. It is just too hard to find a face in the regime that can be trusted as someone to deal with on the international scale. Just too hard. Something has to give or be done . Yes, youngman , Liberia is not the United States in comparison to anything. Even on the US bad economic days, Liberia is not the USA. Of course the next thing to say is that your post never said Liberia was the USA. But understand that America’s innovations surpasses that of any nation that the world has ever seen. That explains why its economy continues to grow and create jobs. Innovation is not found in the culture of the Liberian economy or in its ways of doing things. Of its own 25 million US dollars, couldn’t even managed that ! Central Bank can not handle trusted funds or even account for them . Something has to give or be done. Nothing personal against the regime of the Anointed One, but sufferings are unacceptable and unbearable. That’s all . Nothing personal as to put out anti-Weah slogans.

  3. I’m surely convince that things were if the opposition was calm. People are demanding things that they never requested from 2005. I believe every native man should think before getting in the street because the propoor agenda is fully focus on the native people road is coming so remain calm .

  4. Davis,
    It’s an incontrovertible fact that Liberia is not the United States of America. No one wishes it to be. But over the years, men and women of all backgrounds have presented their arguments or points of view by giving examples. When I made the Obama connection, I wasn’t suggesting that Liberia is the same as the US.

    Furthermore, the chanting of anti-Weah slogans is not horrendous, but rather democratic. I didn’t think it was, neither do I think it is. Weah’s opponents may say that they aren’t interested in bringing the government of his down. But no one knows what lurks in the hearts of men. How’s about Greeks bearing gifts?

    Weah has an obligation to talk to the country about the 25 million dollars that was used as a mop up strategy. But something has begun. The cutting of salaries. I think it’s a good start. So,let’s give him a break.

  5. Why are Liberians growing uneasy about Weah’s presidency? Liberians are not growing uneasy about President Weah because they hate him or because the economic crisis began under his watch.

    The consternation, anxiety, and feelings of dismay that is demonstrated towards the president comes as a surprise because many Liberians thought that after having pursued the presidency for 12 years, he might by now had a team with a comprehensive mission and plan ready to tackle the biting economic issues that are facing the nation now.

    On the contrary, the president and his team are appearing disconcerted during these tough times as the nation grapples over what is the best course to pursue to improve the situation. Are the president and his core advisers playing intentional dumbness? Or could it just be a simple fact that he is overwhelmed by the challenges, and he has finally realized that he underestimated the gravity of the executive office in the first place.

    In my opinion a good number of Liberians are rational people, and they are of the consensus that President Weah has inherited a worsening economy; that it will not be a quick fix; and that it will take some time.

    However, President Weah’s continuous prioritization of the advancement of his own private interests at the detriment of the marginalized population is the major underlying factor behind the tension that has built up throughout the country. His utterances and practices are inconsistent; and as the result, the average yanna boy or street peddler is beginning to detect a pattern and can see the existence of a glaring contradiction in the president’s chain of thought.

    The economy is continuing to stagnate, and the situation is further compounded by a hyperinflationary pressure on the purchase of basic goods and services that the average citizen needs to survive. This is a very dangerous trend and any president who presides over such a volatile state of affairs must be cautious.

  6. That while a worried UK embassy alarmed likelihood of terroristic attack, the US embassy noticeably mute even after UN, AU, and ECOWAS offices warned against “media messages that promote violence” and in spite of deadly acts of mob violence including burning down of a police station, suddenly reacted to “irresponsible speech” of government officials spoke volumes. Moreover, considering the embassy felt all the other destabilizing rabble-rousing of Rodney Sieh, Henry Costa, Rep Yekeh Kulubah, SUP militant students, and a group calling itself Economic Terrorists were “responsible” doesn’t amaze many. Undoubtedly, if poor scared Monrovia communities were wondering about the embassy’s stance on June 7, they got an impactful answer, so too the Council of Patriots and those who would “Sudanize” Liberia.

    • Comrade Samolu, you’re a scholar and a gentleman…
      Indeed, your intellectual presentation of a case study today was fantastic. I sometimes wish we could debate the issues of Liberia in a way that’s similar to the pundits or guest speakers of MSNBC or other television networks. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

      I believe in my heart of hearts that the economic situation in Liberia will be stable. Unfortunately, some critics of Weah fuel the flame of disunity for selfish reasons. They will manipulate the masses and demagogue every aspect of life until their profile is elevated. But there’s a hook or what I call a boomerang effect. The Bible clearly supports my hypothesis: it says, “the seed you sow, the same shall you reap.” So, people who feel that it’s okay to sow seeds of disunity will become leaders someday. Maybe. But, if everything passes away, the word of God will not.

      A year ago, I gave an example of the way in which the South Koreans treat presidential matters constitutionally. South Korean presidency is term-limited. In other words, an elected president in South Korea serves in his or her presidency for 5 years. That’s unique.

      We could do the same darn thing in Liberia. Of course it doesn’t have to be a 5-year situation, but maybe 6 years maximum. I couldn’t care less if it were 5 years. My concentration focus is centered on whether this idea could be embraced in Liberia. The truth of the matter is that in Liberia, a lot of people have presidential ambitions. We need something new. My buddy Honorable James Citizen talks and emits presidential tanticles. There’s a guy in Australia who harbors presidential ambitions. If the South Korean model is photocopied in Liberia, we will be politically well off because there’ll be a host of generational ideas. That’s good for development!

      Finally, it seems to me that Weah sometimes acts like Obama. Weah listens and works behind the scenes. Like Weah who inherited a weak economy from Johnson-Sirleaf, Obama inherited a bad economy from Mr. George Bush Jr. Many people did not trust Obama. A renown Republican member of the Senate, Mr. O’Connell stated that Obama would be made a one-term president. That’s not what God said. God wanted Obama to serve for 8 years. And that’s what happened. Yeah, Weah does not have Obama’s acumen. But if it is God’s will, Weah will change Liberia for the best.

  7. Samolu,
    The Liberian economy will rebound. It takes time for a country such as ours to immediately stabilize.

    I am not sure if the buildings that are being put up are owned exclusively by Weah. There’s too much hear-say going on. Some critics of Weah claim that he owns a private jet and yatch. Yet no one sees the yatch.

    The nefarious machine of the opposition is at work. But it will fade in oblivion when the truth emerges.

  8. Compatriots: Mr. F. Hney, Herman Varney Wratto, Mr. Alpha Conneh, James Davis

    This is just a thought intended to generate more lively intellectual discussions.

    Imagine either one of you being in the shoes of President Weah, and so much negative and drummed-up news concerning your administration abounds in the social media; tabloid newspapers; radio stations, and what have you.

    And in this regard Mr. Hney writes, “The nefarious machine of the opposition is at work. But it will fade in oblivion when the truth emerges.”

    In other words, he may be implying that his approach in quelling down this situation as the president would be to wait for it to, “…fade in oblivion when the truth emerges?” He expounds this logic against a backdrop of the Obama Era and his gradual triumph in spite of the political odds that were stashed against him after he won the presidency.

    Gentlemen, how would the rest of you deal with this situation both in the short-run or the long-run?

  9. The immediate issue here is the planned protests which seem to be this time different from the past in with participants of strange types of Liberians. Ex-rebels now protesting, Ordinary citizens who scene see, five dollars to save on food might not be aware if the 5 is non-sanitized money. Officials of government or off this administration might also be filled with superfluous power to political lies,…etc. All of these if intent become criminal, might disrupt the peace. In as much as every individual has a right to such democracy of protest, the best to ensure this smooth peaceful demonstration is to inspect these protesters by providing heath care sanity with detectors to prevent biological and chemical weapons as maybe seen on the periodical chart of intruders prior to the protest. Diggers of the national security will be on the alert also because we as Liberians will not permit any violence of the past war in the land again. We will single handle any group or individual who is up for trouble from top to low. If you got the means and you feel the economy is bad, as an organization or individual, create programs that will give the people jobs and money. Do not reply. Say all you want to but no touching with intent to do physical harm. Wait to be elected.
    Gone to Silent majority.

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