Liberia: January 8, 2004


A LURD rebel 'general' and 15 of his fighters walked right past a handful of shocked UNMIL guards at the Finance Ministry and seized one of the Directors, kidnapping him for a few hours. This is not the first time that LURD has used gang tactics at the Finance Ministry. Finance Minister Lusena Kamara was also hostage for few hours, until he was rescued by UNMIL soldiers backed by tanks. 

However, instead of a financial shakedown this kidnapping was part of a greater drama. A group calling itself LURD's "military high command" later announced that they had replaced rebel chairman Sekou Damate Conneh with his estranged wife Aisha Keita Conneh, after accusing him of trading LURD's posts in the transitional government for money. The biggest problem with these sudden behind-the-scenes changes of leadership could threaten to derail the peace process. 

The Dutch naval ship Rotterdam (attached to UNMIL) rescued 265 Liberian refugees coming home from Ghana from the Nigerian-registered El-Shaddai, which had been four days without power five kilometers off of Harper, near Liberia's eastern frontier with Ivory Coast. - Adam Geibel 


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