Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999 when a rebel group backed by the government of
neighbouring Guinea, the
United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), emerged in
, a second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in
, emerged in the south, and by June-July of 2003
's government controlled only a third of the country.
capital Monrovia was besieged by LURD, and that group's
shelling of the city resulted in the deaths of many
Thousands of people were displaced from their
homes as a result of the conflict.
Overview of the war
The First Liberian Civil
ended with the Liberian general election,
in which Charles
The second civil war began in April 1999, when Liberian dissidents
under the banner of the Organisation of Displaced Liberians
attacked into Liberia from Guinea. Guinea became LURD’s main source
of military and financial support. By July 2000, the various
dissident groups had coalesced as the Liberians
United for Reconciliation and Democracy
) led by Sekou Conneh
The dissidents were thought to be mostly Mandingo and Krahn
fighters of the former ULIMO-J and ULIMO-K. Also important in
forming LURD was an alliance, brokered by ECOMOG-SL Nigerian chief
General Maxwell Khobe, between Liberian dissidents and the Sierra
Leonean Kamajors hunter militia, including chiefs Sam Hinga-Norman
and Eddie Massally. Against the dissidents Taylor deployed
irregular ex-National Patriotic Front of
fighters with his more privileged units, such as the
positioned to ensure the irregulars did fight.
Simultaneous September 2000 counter-attack on Guinea from Liberia
and Sierra Leone by RUF – still loyal to Taylor and Guinean
dissidents – achieved initial success. By January 2001, however,
Taylor’s forces were pushed back inside Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The insurgents were posing a major threat to the Taylor government.
Liberia was now engaged in a complex three-way conflict with Sierra
Leone and the Guinea Republic. By the beginning of 2002, both of
these countries were supporting Liberians United for Reconciliation
and Democracy (LURD
), while Taylor was
supporting various opposition factions in both countries. By
supporting - practically creating - the SL rebels, the Revolutionary United Front
Taylor also drew the enmity of the British and Americans. British
and U.S. pressure on Taylor increased with rising financial support
for Guinea and U.S./UK-proposed sanctions, a weaker version of
which were imposed by UN Security Council May 2001.
By mid-February 2002 LURD troops were just 44 kilometres from
Monrovia, at Klay Junction, and Taylor was forced to declare a
state of emergency. The February 2002 ICG report says that this
attack was made by pursuing ‘a strategy of infiltration of
south-western Liberia through the thick bush of Southern Lofa,
looping around government strongholds and disrupting supply lines.
… while LURD claims between 300 and 500 men were assigned to that
mission,.. the number that actually attacked was likely closer to
twenty.’ Any image of a large force gradually pushing toward
Monrovia is mistaken; ‘hit and run’ raids, rather than a continuous
advance, seem to have been the pattern. Through the first half of
2002 LURD mounted raids in Bomi, Bong, and Montserrado counties,
hitting, in addition to Klay Junction, Gbarnga and Tubmanburg, each
time temporarily seizing control from government fighters. In May,
an attack on Arthington, less than 20 kilometres from the capital,
apparently prompted panic in Monrovia. The state of emergency was
lifted in September 2002, after, the government claimed, the
township of Bopolu had been retaken.
In early 2003, a second rebel group, the Ivoirian-backed Movement for Democracy in
), emerged in the south, and
by the summer of 2003, Taylor's government controlled only a third
of the country. Despite some setbacks, by mid-2003 LURD controlled
the northern third of the country and was threatening the capital.
capital Monrovia was besieged
by LURD, and that group's shelling of the city resulted in the
deaths of many civilians.
Thousands of people were displaced
from their homes as a result of the conflict.
A new bout of fighting began in March 2003 after a relative lull
and by early May, LURD and MODEL had gained control of nearly two
thirds of the country, and were threatening Monrovia. Regional and
wider pressure led to the convening of a conference in Accra by the
then Chair of ECOWAS, John Kufuor of Ghana, on June 4, 2003.
By July, Monrovia appeared to be in danger of being occupied and
devastated despite ongoing peace talks. The U.S. established
Joint Task Force Liberia
built around a U.S. navy amphibious group with the 26th Marine Expeditionary
aboard, positioned off the West African coast.
States sent a small number of troops to bolster security
around their embassy in Monrovia, which had
come under attack, during Operation Shining
Taylor resigned on August 11, 2003, ahead of the Accra
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which formed the negotiated end
to the war, and was flown into exile in Nigeria.
warrant for Taylor for war crimes committed by his Revolutionary United Front rebel
allies in Sierra
Leone was later issued by Interpol but Nigeria
refused to deport him for a time unless they receive a specific
request from Liberia.
Vice-President Moses Blah
August 14, rebels lifted their siege of
Monrovia and 200
American troops landed to support a West African peace
Thousands of people danced and sang as American
marines and ECOMIL, the Nigerian-led West African troops, took over
the port and bridges which had split the capital into government
and rebel-held zones. An estimate 1,000 people had been killed in
Monrovia between July 18 and August 14.
handed over power to the
Transitional Government of Liberia
on October 14, 2003.
However, the transitional government exercised no real authority in
the country, 80% of which was controlled by the rebel groups.
United Nations peacekeeping
On September 11
, UN Secretary General Kofi
recommended the deployment of the peacekeeping mission,
the United Nations
Mission in Liberia
, to maintain the peace agreement. The
UN Security Council
mission on September 19
. Nigeria sent in
peacekeepers as part of the interim ECOMIL Economic
Community of West African States force.
UNMIL was made up of over 15,000
personnel, including both military and civilian troops. The bulk of
the personnel were armed military troops, but there were also
civilian policemen, as well as political advisers and humanitarian
aid workers. On October 1, the first peacekeepers changed their
berets and became a UN force, with many more troops earmarked.
During three days of riots in Monrovia in October 2004, nearly 400
people were wounded and 15 killed. The UN slowly built up its
forces in the country, with 5500 projected to be in place by
November 2003, and worked to disarm the various factions. However,
instability in neighbouring countries, an incomplete disarmament
process, and general discontent threatened Liberia's fragile