rebel groups, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy
and Movement for Democracy in Liberia, have led the way in the
battle to oust Charles Taylor from power. The groups control roughly
60 percent of Liberia between them, with LURD forces controlling
territory in the north and west and MODEL controlling portions
of the south and east.
United for Reconciliation and Democracy
in Freetown, Sierra Leone formed the Liberians United for Reconciliation
and Democracy, the West African republic's largest insurgency
group, in 2000. The group reportedly has elements operating in
Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire. The leader of
LURD is Seykou Conneh, an embattled rebel leader who is said to
harbor presidential aspirations.
stated mission is to force Charles Taylor from power and to establish
a sustainable democracy in Liberia.
only means for Liberians to recover their dignity and peace is
to chase out Taylor, and for that there is no other ways and means
than force," Conneh told Agence France Presse in 2002.
draws many of its recruits from rebel groups who fought Charles
Taylor's forces during the bloody civil war in the 1990s. The
group initially operated largely from Guinea, and reportedly continues
to receive the bulk of its funding from Guinean President Lansana
Conte, a fact the Guineans have flatly denied.
rebel group's goals, as appear on their Web site, are the repatriation
of Liberian refugees, the resettling of internally displaced persons
in Liberia and the professionalization of military and security
forces. The main focus, however, is to see President Charles Taylor
removed from power.
is determined to have Charles Taylor removed from state power
so as to halt his constant assault on the constitution, including
the abuse of power and the misuse of authority to stifle press
freedom and individual rights," the mission statement reads.
"The Taylor government's misguided economic policies, monopolistic
practices, and criminal interests hinder economic recovery and
international reconstruction assistance. An imperial presidency
has local and national government with public services in shambles
the single mission statement, some analysts have reported LURD
may be coming apart as its forces close in on their main objective
of ousting Taylor.
diversity of competing objectives and presidential aspirations
has made key players suspicious, even paranoid. These internal
divisions indicate that LURD is no different from those it seeks
to replace in Monrovia," the International Crisis Group,
a global security advocacy group that has done extensive research
on Liberia's rebel groups, reported recently.
key LURD members defected from the group in 2002 and 2003, amid
disagreements over the group's objectives. Conneh has jailed other
leaders perceived to pose a threat to his leadership, including
the group's elected Secretary-General, Isaac Nyenabo, who was
jailed in March 2003.
internal crises, LURD has enjoyed marked military success since
January 2003. The organization has increased its reach dramatically
in recent months, advancing from the Guinean border to within
miles of Monrovia and gaining territory in Liberia's north and
west. The rebels have staged multiple offensives into Monrovia,
killing thousands, displacing tens of thousands and creating a
the conflict, human rights groups, like Amnesty International,
have condemned LURD for abusive practices that include killings,
rape, torture, looting, kidnapping and the use of child combatants.
The Movement for Democracy in Liberia
March 2003, anger over Conneh's leadership of LURD led to the
creation of a second rebel group. The Movement for Democracy in
Liberia (MODEL) quickly became a major player in the fighting,
taking control of strategic areas in Liberia's south and east.
is composed of roughly 1,000 anti-Taylor fighters, political asylum
seekers and refugees predominantly based in Cote d'Ivoire. The
group, about one-third the size of LURD, is reportedly linked
to Cote d'Ivoire's President Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo has opposed
Taylor since Liberia reportedly began backing anti-government
rebels in Cote d'Ivoire.
LURD, MODEL claims to be fighting for a better Liberia. In its
mission statement, the group states that it strives to "protect
the safety and security of all within the borders of Liberia,
respect and promote individual human rights as prescribed by the
Human Rights Commission and downsize the Liberian government as
we know it and create a functional representative government."
also like LURD, the group primarily seeks to remove Charles Taylor
from power. MODEL's secondary goal is to prevent LURD leader Sekou
Conneh and his Mandingo ethnic group from gaining power in Liberia.
Many of the MODEL fighters come from the Krahn ethnic group.
While the Liberian government considers MODEL an offshoot of LURD,
the two rebel groups claim to be separate. According to the International
Crisis Group (ICG), "the Liberians fighting against Charles
Taylor from inside Cote d'Ivoire are acting independently of the
ICG reports that while some members of MODEL joined the rebel
cause of their own accord, many Liberian refugees are conscripted
by force. The think tank also reports that MODEL blacklists those
refusing to fight.
Compiled by Jessica Moore for the Online NewsHour