What I learned from a (gated) Africa Confidential article on developments in the October 2011 presidential race in Liberia, that is already well underway:
- “There are no plans to replace [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's] Vice-President[,] Joseph Boakai, 66, but many favour a younger running mate. We hear that former human rights activist and current Minister of Public Works Samuel Kofi Woods, 46, is a favoured candidate.”
- “The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative, Ellen Margrethe Løj, again hinted that UNMIL may stay well beyond October 2011 – investors want their own security guarantees.”
- “In August, the CDC [formerly the Congress for Democratic Change] announced that it had become the Coalition for Democratic Change. Its fellow coalition members include former foes such as the Progressive Democratic Party, led by Sekou Damate Conneh, better known as leader of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD); the National Patriotic Party, still irrevocably linked to ex-President Taylor; the Liberia National Union, headed by Winston Tubman, and the True Whig Party, a very slimmed-down version of the party that dominated Liberian politics for decades. Dissidents in the CDC and other parties have questioned the viability of this coalition of rivals.”
Here is an excerpt from an International Crisis Group report that just came out on the massacre of protesters in Guinea last month:
The defence minister, Sekouba Konaté, a key figure in the current power structure, has important connections with rebel and militia groups from Guinea’s and Liberia’s recent past. He has built up substantial connections within the military and business community over the years and has reportedly gained considerable control over the award of government contracts.51 For example, the contract awarded to an American company SCS Hyperdynamics to share offshore oil exploration, was done with his support.
Konaté was appointed by Conté to oversee operations of the LURD rebels in Macenta due to his experience in the Liberian and Sierra Leone conflicts. He has strong ties with the LURD leadership and rank and file and is currently tightly linked to Aisha Damate Conneh, an important figure in that organisation to whose house in Conakry he provides protection. He has also helped secure jobs for ex-LURD combatants at the Cellcom phone company.53 These links may shed some light on the reported presence of Liberians among the armed men who attacked and killed protesters on 28 September. In addition, several credible sources claim that Konaté, or people acting for him, have been involved in recruiting young men from his Malinké ethnic group to join the contingent at the Kaliah military training centre.
I haven’t read the whole report yet (microeconomics midterm on Monday!), so if anyone gets to it before me let me know what you found most interesting.