Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy
|This article is outdated. (November 2010)|
The Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) was a rebel group in Liberia that was active from 1999 until the resignation of Charles Taylor ended the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. While the group may now be formally dissolved, the interpersonal linkages of the civil war era remain a key force in internal Liberian politics.
The group's only stated political purpose during the civil war that followed its rebellion against President Charles Taylor was to force him out of office. It was believed that the group was strongly supported or controlled by the government of neighboring Guinea, and it was accused of atrocities during its war against Taylor's government. This was proven after the group's first incursion in April 2000 on Lofa County, the border area between Guinea and Liberia.
The group controlled northwestern Liberia - Lofa and Gbapolu counties, principally - and had its headquarters at Tubmanburg in Bomi County. A large majority of the group's fighters were Muslims from the Mandingo and Krahn ethnic groups. On June 4, 2003, the group laid siege to Liberia's capital, Monrovia, and assaulted the city during several bloody battles, although it was unable to capture it. During the siege, the group was accused of firing mortar shells into civilian areas of the city, killing dozens, if not hundreds of people.
LURD's successes in occupying northern Liberia and besieging Monrovia, in addition to the successes of another rebel group in southern Liberia (the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, or MODEL) and heavy pressure from the United States and the international community, effectively forced President Taylor to resign and go into exile in Nigeria on August 11, 2003, as part of a peace agreement. A transitional government headed by Gyude Bryant was established on October 14, and it included many representatives of LURD. One of LURD's founders, George Dweh, became Speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly.
In January 2004, LURD was divided by a power struggle between its chairman, Sekou Conneh, and his wife Aisha Conneh, an adviser to the President of Guinea, Lansana Conté. The group promised to disarm as part of the 2003 peace agreement, although it was accused of simply moving most of its weapons into safe keeping across the border in Sierra Leone. In June 2004, Chayee Doe, the vice chairman of LURD and younger brother of Samuel Kanyon Doe, was briefly appointed chairman despite an illness, but died two days later.
George Dweh was suspended indefinitely as Speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly on April 28, 2005, along with his deputy Eddington Varmah and Ways, Means & Finance's Committee Chairman Tarplah Doe, for widespread corruption.
The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have completed the disarmament of 100,000 ex-combatants from LURD, MODEL and the ex-government of Liberia. The process commenced on December 7, 2003 but was abruptly stopped after militia men demanded money for handing in their guns. The process re-commenced and each ex-combatant received 300 United States dollars.
Testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on August 28, 2008, Sekou Conneh said that, during the war, Sierra Leone and Guinea had allowed the LURD rebels free passage "through their borders with our arms without any questions from them".
- "Liberia:Ex-Warlord says Sierra Leone and Guinea cooperated with his faction", African Press Agency, August 29, 2008.
- International Crisis Group, "Liberia: The Key To Ending Regional Instability", ICG Africa Report N° 43, 24 April 2002