Ivory Coast’s Troubles Bleed Into Neighboring Liberia

By
Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Photo: Seyllou/Getty Images

Adding to Liberia's already mounting problems is the flow of Liberian mercenaries into the Ivory Coast and the flow of more than 100,000 Ivory Coast refugees into Liberia. “It’s a serious threat to the stability of Liberia and, I might say, to the stability of all neighboring countries,” said Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in an interview. “There’s been a lot of investment for peace in this sub-region; we’re beginning to see the result of that investment,” she added. “If nothing is done to resolve the crisis, all of these efforts will be undermined.”

The mercenaries are fighting on behalf of the Ivory Coast's entrenched leader Laurent Gbagbo — not recognized by the United Nations — as rebels in the north of the country battle for control. “According to what we hear, both sides are recruiting Liberian mercenaries,” said Harrison S. Karnwea Sr., Liberia’s interior minister. “When people have been used to living on violence, they have got no profession to earn their living on.” On Thursday, fighting had escalated in the Ivory Coast capital city of Abidjan where forces loyal to Gbagbo clashed with forces in support of U.N.-recognized president Alassane Quattara.

Liberia Uneasily Linked to Ivory Coast Conflict [NYT]
Ivory Coast: 'Heavy fighting' near Gbagbo residence [BBC]