The Second Liberian Civil War (21 April 1999 – 18 August 2003)


The second civil war began in April 1999, when Liberia under Organization of Displaced Liberians attacked Liberia from Guinea. Guinea became LURD’s main source of military and financial support which was led by Sekou Conneh in July 2000.  Against LURD, Taylor prepared and arranged irregular ex-National Patriotic Front of Liberia fighters with his more privileged units, such as the Anti-Terrorist Unit. 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. In September 2000 rebellion on Guinea from Liberia and Sierra Leone by RUF achieved successes.

By January 2001, Taylor’s forces were sent back inside Sierra Leone and Liberia where the rebels threatened Taylor’s government.
In May 2001 the British and the U.S. placed pressure on Taylor’s government which increased the government’s financial problems.

By the beginning of 2002, Guinea and Sierra Leone were supporting LURD, but Taylor was supporting various opposition factions in both countries creating the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Taylor also drew the enmity of the British and Americans.
By mid-February 2002, Taylor was forced to declare a state of emergency in which the number that actually attacked was likely closer to twenty.
In May 2002, an attack on Arthington, caused panic in Monrovia. The state of emergency was lifted in September of 2002 after the government claimed the township of Bopolu had been retaken.

In early 2003, a second rebel group, the Ivorian-backed Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), emerged in the south, and later in 2003, Taylor’s government controlled only a third of the country. The capital, Monrovia, was surrendered by LURD, after the deaths of many civilians and many losing their homes and properties.
Another fight began in March of 2003 and by early May, LURD and MODEL had gained control of nearly two thirds of the country, and were threatening Monrovia, which led to a conference in Accra by the then Chair of the ECOWAS, President John Kufuor of Ghana, on June 4, 2003.
By July 2003, Monrovia was in danger despite the peace conferences
The U.S. then established a Joint Task Force in Liberia which was built around a U.S. navy amphibious group. On July 25th, 2003, the Southern Europe Task Force at Vicenza, Italy was assigned to lead the U.S. Army command for the operation.

Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948), served as the 22nd President of Liberia from 2nd August, 1997 until his resignation on 11th August 2003

On the 29th July 2003, LURD declared a ceasefire. ECOWAS sent two battalions of Nigerian peacekeepers to Liberia.
President Taylor resigned on August 11, 2003, ahead of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to end the war, and was flown into exile in Nigeria. Vice-President Moses Blah later replaced Taylor.
On August 14th, rebels lifted their siege of Monrovia and 200 American soldiers landed to support a West African peace force. A total of 1,000 people had been killed in Monrovia between July 18 and August 14.
Moses Blah handed over power to the National Transitional Government of Liberia on October 14th, 2003. But 80% of the government was controlled by the rebel groups. Riots in Monrovia left approximately 16 people dead.

Both LURD and Charles Taylor made extensive use of children, press ganged into military service as soldiers or ammunition porters. The use of child soldiers was producing results by both sides, regardless of it being forbidden. The child soldiers were addicted to cocaine, khat, and other drugs on a daily basis as a means of control.

On September 11, 2003, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended the deployment of the peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), to maintain the peace agreement, which was approved on September 19th with the aid of some personnels.
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 1st, 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 of 2004, nearly 400 people were wounded and 15 massacred. The UN slowly built up its forces in the country, with 5,500 projected to be in place by the November of 2003, and worked to disarm the various factions which brought an end to Liberia’s second civil war. The war lasted for 4 years, 3 months and 4 weeks.

Video credit: AP Archive


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