Sekou Damate Conneh, Jr. (born 1960) is a Liberian politician and former rebel leader.
Born in the Liberian town of Gbarnga (Bong County) to an ethnic Mandingo Muslim family, Conneh attended St. Martin's Cathedral School from 1966 to 1973. He then attended William Tubman Methodist High School where he received his diploma in 1979.
He first became active in politics in 1980 when he joined the opposition Progressive People's Party (PPP). Conneh was also a member of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), the PPP's mother organization. He served as a senior party coordinator for the Kokoyah district in Bong County before fleeing to Uganda when the administration of President William Tolbert banned the PPP and arrested some of its leaders.
In 1985, after the Tolbert government was overthrown, Conneh returned to Liberia in a bid to contest the upcoming legislative election on the ticket of the United People's Party (UPP). The party was later banned, allegedly for possessing a 'foreign ideology'. In 1986, he found employment in the Ministry of Finance, working as a revenue agent in Rivercess County. In 1988, he was transferred to Montserrado County, where he remained until the collapse of President Samuel Doe's regime in 1990.
During the period of civil war in the country, Conneh founded and served as the managing director of the Damate Corporation, an export and import business entity based in Conakry, Guinea. The corporation's main activity involved the trading of second-hand cars imported from Europe. While in Guinea, he became fluent in French.
After the civil war ended and elections were held, Conneh returned to Liberia to resume his former job as a revenue agent for the Ministry of Finance. Soon after, he quit and returned to car trading in Conakry. This time, Conneh began exporting second-hand cars purchased in Guinea to Liberia. Liberian Intelligence officers accused him of smuggling and he was arrested and moved to a prison cell in Monrovia. His wife, Aisha, used her position as daughter of the Guinean president Lansana Conté's soothsayer to urge Conté to intervene and ask for his release. Conneh was duly released soon after and returned to Guinea.
In April 1999, several veteran opponents of President Charles Taylor formed a rebel movement known as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). LURD was essentially a reorganized version of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy-Kromah faction (ULIMO-K), which was a Mandingo dominated rebel faction that participated in the civil war. Its goal was to remove Taylor from power. Conneh was appointed chairman of LURD, mainly because of his high-level contacts with the Guinean government. Civil war resumed in Liberia after clashes between LURD rebels and government forces in 1999.
Conneh became the second president of the national executive committee of LURD in early 2003. Following the departure of Charles Taylor and the setting up of a broad based transitional government, LURD and other rebel groups disbanded.
Conneh's supporters founded the Progressive Democratic Party (PRODEM) in preparation for upcoming elections, scheduled for 11 October 2005. He was nominated as the party's presidential candidate, but received less than 1% of the vote.
Testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on August 28, 2008, 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".
- Elections in Liberia, African Elections Database.
- "Liberia:Ex-Warlord says Sierra Leone and Guinea cooperated with his faction", African Press Agency, August 29, 2008.