Bryant said in front of West African leaders and Liberians who had convened in the capital city of Monrovia, ”Never again will we Liberians use war as a way of addressing our concerns.”
No stranger to politics, Bryant led a small political party in addition to his career as a heavy-equipment dealer. In 1997 Bryant worked toward uniting political parties behind a civilian candidate, but his efforts failed when military leader Charles Taylor was elected president.
Bryant remained in Liberia during the fighting under Taylor. Liberia’s rebels, Taylor’s allies and civilian leaders selected Bryant as head of the transitional government, which will remain in place until a new government is elected in 2005.
Bryant’s appointment ends Taylor’s leadership completely. Though Taylor left Liberia on Aug. 11, he passed control of the war-torn nation over to his vice president, Moses Blah.
“I congratulate him,” Taylor said about Bryant’s appointment, “for I believe he is a good man who will work with all Liberians towards attainment of peace, solidarity and socio-cultural integration.”
Taylor now resides in the jungles of southern Nigeria with his family and dozens of staff in three guarded villas in the town of Calabar, the Associated Press reported.
Bryant is now the leader of a country where more than 200,000 people died in a civil war that began in 1989, and almost every person living in Liberia was a refugee at some point, the AP reported.
His new government has the daunting task of disarming young fighters who have grown accustomed to violent lives. Once the weapons are destroyed, the government will help displaced civilians find homes and create a plan for elections scheduled for 2005, Reuters reported.
Security was tight at Bryant’s ceremony. U.N peacekeepers armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers monitored the scene.
The U.N. forces, which will eventually number 15,000 — the largest deployment in the world, replaced 3,500 West African peacekeepers who had been led by Nigerian soldiers.