Viewing cable 02ABUJA788

02ABUJA7882002-03-12 17:28:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 000788 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2012 
REF: A. ABUJA 622 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b) and 
¶1. (U) PolMilOff and OIG Inspector Paul Tyson March 6 met 
ECOWAS Director of Legal Affairs Roger Laloupo. DAS Perry, 
accompanied by PolMilOff, also met Laloupo and his Deputy, 
Halima Ahmed, on March 7. 
¶2. (C) Laloupo said the ECOWAS-sponsored Liberia meeting was 
still set for March 14-16, but was not confirmed due to 
difficulty in contacting the various parties.  Contrary to 
what Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf told us (Ref a), Laloupo remarked 
that the March meeting would be a preparatory session to 
allow the stakeholders to set a venue, date and agenda for 
the actual reconciliation meeting. 
¶3. (C) Laloupo confirmed ECOWAS Executive Secretary Chambas 
and Nigerian Minister of Integration and Cooperation in 
Africa Bimbola Ogunkelu had traveled to Monrovia to garner 
President Taylor's assent to the meeting.  They later went to 
Dakar to elicit President Wade's approval.  After a stop-over 
in Libya, the two traveled on to Addis Ababa for a meeting on 
NEPAD. (Laloupo added that the Secretariat had just faxed a 
list of possible meeting participants to Chambas in Addis for 
¶4. (C) Laloupo lamented ECOWAS' inability to convince Liberia 
to accept its help in working towards national reconciliation 
and the restructuring of the Liberian armed forces after the 
end of the Liberian civil war.  Since that effort had been 
unsuccessful, he sighed, problems that contributed to the war 
remained largely unresolved would have to be faced now, 
particularly with elections approaching. 
¶5. (C) Ahmed, who had visited Monrovia during the war and 
then again recently, opined that the country looked worse 
now.  Unfortunately, she remarked, President Taylor could 
point to sanctions and the rebels and likely avoid 
culpability when election season rolled around.  The only 
hope of a real election challenge to Taylor was if the 
opposition parties coalesced, though that seemed unlikely. 
When Ambassador Perry emphasized concern that many opposition 
figures feared returning to Liberia without security 
guarantees, Ahmed agreed, suggesting that ECOWAS might have 
to consider providing security to opposition politicians 
similar to that provided Hutu moderates in Burundi by the 
South African military. 
¶6. (C) DAS Perry joined Ambassador Jeter for a March 7 lunch 
with Alhaji Kromah, former leader of ULIMO-K, who also claims 
to have the loyalty of LURD fighters.  On the issue of a fair 
electoral process, Kromah thought it possible only if Charles 
Taylor were not around.  Kromah planned to attend the March 
14-16 conference but expected nothing material to be 
achieved.  He felt that the only solution was to continue to 
apply pressure on Taylor to leave office and the country. 
Kromah suggested that the way to get Taylor's attention and 
inspire greater political flexibility was to publicly make 
known the possibility that consideration might be given to 
bringing Taylor before the Sierra Leone Special Court for his 
role in the RUF-driven civil war. 
¶7. (C) COMMENT: Laloupo's characterization is the first we 
have heard that the meeting might be preparatory and not 
substantive.  Laloupo admitted not having the latest details 
from Chambas, but is usually in the loop.  It is possible 
that concerns raised by President Taylor and perhaps 
President Wade made ECOWAS to lower the bar for the Abuja 
meeting.  Whether the meeting is preparatory or substantive, 
time is running out to prepare for the session and to invite 
the necessary participants.  Many know of the session because 
of the hyperactive Liberian grapevine and will attend without 
a formal invitation.  However, if this meeting is a bust it 
may sap the momentum for a regionally inspired reconciliation 
¶8. (U) DAS Perry cleared this message.