Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Re-opening of port and airport

The Roberts international airport and the free port of Monrovia have been ordered reopened by the government. According to LBS news, the Head of State Gen. Samuel Kanyon Doe is quoted in an Executive Mansion release as saying the decision was taken because the situation in the country after the November 12 attempted coup is now under control. He said this would provide the opportunity for businessmen wishing to travel to Liberia by sea or air for business activities to do so.

According to the army chief of staff, Lt- Gen. Henry S. Dubar, the coup attempt was led by General Thomas Quiwonkpa with mercenaries from Cuba, Ghana and Sierra Leone. He said the plot was hatched from the Ivory Coast and the mercenaries had used weapons made in Czechoslovakia.

General Dubar also deplored the attitude of Liberians including soldiers who he said had chanted slogans in favour of the coup. He described them as 'deceitful people' for tearing down posters bearing the portrait of Gen. Doe when the late Gen. Quiwonkpa made his broadcast.

Gen. Quiwonkpa was shot dead by troops loyal to Gen. Doe and his castrated body placed on display in Monrovia.

Ban on press, student and other groups

Several organisations in the country have been banned by the government. They include the Press Union of Liberia; the National Union of Liberian Teachers, NULT; the Liberian National Students Union; Linsu, the Liberian. business caucus; and the provisional student leadership council of the University of Liberia. These organisations have also been prohibited from holding any and all meetings and gatherings effective immediately.

LBS (Liberian Broadcasting System) news quotes an Executive Mansion release as saying failure on the part of these organisations to comply with this banning order will subject them to penalties under the law. Also banned from the country for two weeks are foreign journalists.

Confession of captured rebel

One of the rebels arrested by loyal forces, Maj Anthony Marque, has made confessions at the Executive Mansion.where the Head of State had invited ambassadors and other foreign representatives to acquaint them with the coup attempt.

Maj. Marque said Quiwonkpa recruited him and other rebels and planned the invasion in neighbouring Ivory Coast. He said the late coup leader had agreed to pay each Liberian rebel 100,000 dollars and send them to school in the United States. The rebel soldier said the total cost of the invasion was put at around 25 million dollars.

Maj. Marque also said that Quiwonkpa had informed him that the invasion was to be financed by some Liberians among whom he named as Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Taylor Meyard, who was in exile in the United States of America. The arrested rebel soldier said Quiwonkpa wanted to overthrow the Liberian government because it was depressing and suppressing the people and that the election was not fair.

He said Quiwonkpa wanted to rule Liberia as president for only three months and then turn the country over to the LAP (Liberian Action Party) presidential candidate Jackson F. Doe. He also named Henry A. Greaves Jr, Henry Fanbulleh Jr, and Harry Yuan as members of the invasion forces.

Closure of border with Sierra Leone

The Head of State, Gen. Samuel Kanyon Doe, has announced the recall of the Liberian Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone, Francis Boye, and Dr Gustav King, the Liberian national and secretary general of the Mano River Union to return home for consultations.

In a press release from the Executive Mansion, the Head of State also announced the permanent closure of the Liberian-Sierra Leone border until otherwise ordered.

The Head of State has also announced that while security men should remain vigilant in hunting down those few remaining rebels who entered Liberia with the late Quiwonkpa, all Liberians should remember that government is not waging a campaign against anyone from any particular area of this country.

Gen. Doe made it clear that no soldier or civilian should conduct any military or other action against any one person. He said that such action against a particular ethnic grouping will be contrary to the policy of unification practised by his government. Any person found persecuting person or persons because of the tribal affiliation instead of security reasons will be dealt with.

Sierra Leone denies involvement

Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister has denied Liberian accusations that mercenaries from Sierra Leone took part in the attempted coup in Liberia. Abdul Karim Koroma said that his government was very disturbed by the allegations and that the government did not have a policy of interfering in the affairs of neighbouring states.

On November 13, the Liberian Armed Forces Chief of Staff had said that mercenaries from Sierra Leone and Cuba had taken part in the coup. The Cuban government also denies the report.

Ghana denies involvement

The Ghana government has denied that Ghana was one of the countries from which some of those who allegedly took part in the recent coup attempt in Liberia originated. An official statement in Accra said that no Ghanaian was recruited to take part in the attempted coup, nor did the government at any time have any knowledge of, or play any part whatsoever in plans to overthrow the government of Liberia.

The statement stressed that the PNDC (Provisional National Defence Council) believes firmly in the sovereignty and the territorial inviolability of states, and in the policy of good-neighbourliness, and it will continue to be guided by these principles in the interest of peace and progress in the African continent in general, and the sub-region in particular.

Action Party implicated in coup

Head of State and President of the Interim National Assembly, Gen. Samuel K. Doe, has told the press at the Executive Mansion that the attempted coup led by former Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa, was the result of dialogue between General Quiwonkpa and the leadership of the Liberian Action Party, LAP. Gen. Doe recalled that earlier this month, he had called on all political parties to forget about their differences and work together as one people. He said the late Quiwonkpa told LAP that even if the party got all the seats it should not accept any reconciliation until it got the presidency.

He said the late Quiwonkpa promised that after seizing power, he was to rule the country for only three months and hand it over to LAP. The Head of State said during the raid the government lost six to seven soldiers but he did not yet know how many civilians were killed. He displayed some weapons that were capture from the rebels by government troops. The Head of State described the attempted coup as an invasion and not a countercoup. Gen. Doe said Quiwonkpa hired him in the Ivory Coast to travel to Liberia through Sierra Leone where some rebels were recruited to stage the attempted coup.

Sawyer not a wanted person

Head of State, Gen. Doe, has again warned that no political prisoner in detention should be harmed or harassed in any way. Anyone violating his order will be seriously punished, he added.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that Dr Amos Sawyer is not a wanted person and therefore should not be molested by soldiers or security men. According to an Information Ministry release, anyone violating this order will be seriously punished.

Politicians ordered to report

The Head of State has ordered several individuals to report at the Executive Mansion. According to an Executive Mansion release, failure on the part of the individuals to report, the government of Liberia will not be able to guarantee their safety.

Those involved are: Mr Jackson F. Doe, Tuan Wreh, Byron Tarr, David Farhat, Peter Johnson, Edward B.N. Kesselly, Gabriel Kpolleh, and Baccus Matthews.

Others are Amos Sawyer, Harry Greaves Jr, S. Djabarou Kalloum, Emmanuel S. Kromah, Emmanuel Shaw, M.V. Sirleaf, and Lesley Greene. Concluding, the release said that individuals should inform the Executive Mansion.

Editor in Chief killed

The editor in chief of LBS (Liberian Broadcasting System) news, Charles Gbenyan, has been killed. The Head of State, Gen. Samuel K. Doe, confirmed the death of Mr Gbenyan at the Executive Mansion when he met ambassadors and foreign representatives to acquaint them with the coup attempt by soldiers led by former Commanding General Quiwonkpa.

Gen. Doe said the late Mr Gbenyan met his death when security forces arrested him and tried to disarm him. In the tussle, a gun went off killing Mr Gbenyan instantly, the Head of State explained.

Mr Gbenyan was editor in chief of LBS news and had been named producer of the ELTV (LBS television) popular programme "Week in Review", and was the newscaster for both radio and television. The late Mr Gbenyan was a graduate of the University of Liberia and a law student.

President Reagan's message to Doe

The President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan, has expressed concern about the attempt made by former Armed Forces Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa, to overthrow the Liberian government.

In a message from the US President sent to Gen. Samuel Kanyon Doe, he said attempts to forcibly unseat Gen. Doe's government threatened the return to civilian rule which he said has been Dr Doe's objective since he assumed Liberia's highest office five years ago. The US President also told the Head of State that his objective to return Liberia to democratic civilian rule was one which the United States shared, and assured the Liberian leader of the US government's continuing close co- operation with the Liberian government in months ahead.

Meanwhile, President Reagan has expressed delight that his Liberian counterpart avoided injuries during the violence which unfortunately occurred and hoped that Gen. Doe's government would be able to focus in the difficult weeks ahead on the essential task of national reconstruction.

New armed forces commander appointed

Liberia's Ambassador accredited to India, Brig-Gen. Rudolf Kolaco, has been named Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia. According to a Defence Ministry release signed by Chief Information Office, Maj. Roland Livingstone, General Kolaco replaces Brig-Gen. Maurice Zeze, who has been relieved of his post as Commanding General. Meanwhile, members of the Armed Forces of Liberia have been directed to take orders from the new Commanding General.

Report information about rebels

The executive committee of the national security of the Republic of Liberia has appealed to the Liberian citizens in general as well as foreign residents within the country to report any information on the whereabouts of the following army personnel and citizens.

They are: Col. John Nuah, former Sports Director, Armed Forces of Liberia; Maj. John Leeman, former Chief of Personnel, Armed Forces of Liberia; and 2nd/Lt. Cooper Teah, former commander of the Ganta detachment. Others are: Mr Moses Doupu, former Minister of Labour and Mr Harry Yuan, former LEC (Liberia Electricity Corporation) managing director.

According to a Defence Ministry press release, the above named individuals are dissidents and associates of the late former Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa. facilities. The release further said that these army personnel and citizens are also very dangerous and anyone who harbours them will face the full force of the law.

The French news agency has meanwhile reported that government troops had "launched an operation against opposition activists as well as against members of the Gio ethnic group of which General Quiwonkpa was a member." The Gio tribe originated in northern Liberia but many live in Monrovia.


Protest over appointment of Chief Justice

The Sierra Leone Bar Association asked its members to boycott all court sittings for two days from November 14 to protest the appointment of a new Chief Justice by President Siaka Stevens.

In a press release the association deprecated the "preemptory manner" in which the outgoing president removed Chief Justice Livesey Luke, 55. The association urged parliament to repeal the president's powers over the judiciary, and advocated "adequate security of tenure" for all judges.

Without this, it said, justice in Sierra Leone would be "seriously imperilled". Legal observers said the new Chief Justice, Sheikh Mohamed Kutubu, 53, was promoted over eleven other judges to the post, and that this had produced widespread criticism from members of the Sierra Leone bench and bar.

Former Chief Justice Livesey Luke was abruptly sent on retirement without being given any official explanation.


Bolgatanga-Ouagadougou link

A microwave link between Bolgatanga and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso being installed by the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (P&T), under the ECOWAS- sponsored Intelcom project, is expected to be completed by July 1986.

The $600,00 Intelcom project is proceeding on schedule to provide direct telephone, telex, telegraph and television links between the two West AFrican economic community members.

Meanwhile, P&T engineers and Japanese experts are working on yet another microwave project sponsored by the Japanese Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund (OECF) to link Accra and the Upper Region of Ghana. The two projects when completed will link Ouagadougou to most parts of Ghana.

Under the $26 million OECF project, which started last May, low-power consumption microwave transmitter-receivers, each capable of handling 960 telephone channels and colour television transmissions, are being installed in more than 25 locations between Accra and Bolgatanga. Rural communities along this link will also have improved telecommunications

Telecommunications links between Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast, being financed by the African Development Bank under a Pan African Telecommunication (PANAFTEL) project, will be commissioned by April 1986.


French financial aid

The fourth session of the French-Togolese joint high commission, which took place in Paris from 4th to 6th November 1985 under the chairmanship of Astu Koffi Amega, Togolese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and of Christian Nucci, French Minister of Co-operation, mainly examined rural development in Togo.

According to a communique issued by the French Ministry of Cooperation, the French delegation announced during the meeting that aid would be given in three areas: rural development, economic revival and the development of human resources, especially technical training.

With regard to rural development, aid will continue to be given for the rehabilitation of cocoa and coffee plantations. Support will also be given to help establish young farmers for industrial reafforestation, the promotion of sheep rearing and the development of the water supply system. France will continue to contribute, especially through loans by the Central Fund for Economic Co-operation or through subsidies, towards the restoration of a greater balance in the budget of Togo.

France will also help in improving the management of Togolese state finances by sending experts to Togo, providing scholarships for training course, and helping to computerise the public accounting system.


Arms on Ghana plane

As we went to press, the BBC was announcing the discovery of arms and ammunition on a plane at Dublin Airport. They said that one semi-automatic rifle with night sight, a revolver and a large amount of ammunition were discovered in the toilet of an Austrian-owned being 707 which had been leased to a Ghanaian company".

The BBC said that the logbook of the plane indicated that it had visited many countries, including France, Yugoslavia, Iran, Nicaragua and Mexico.

The BBC report did not identify the Ghanaian company, but stated that the police have no evidence of any IRA connection. The ITN report of the incident said that the lane was believed to belong to the Swiss Timex Company but had been leased to a "Libyan business interest". It will be recalled that Libya Currently has many business interests in Ghana especially the foreign exchange shops in Accra and it is known that some planes regularly come to the UK to buy goods for those shops.

Devaluation is a painful process

Currency devaluation is a painful process which should not be recommended for developing countries.

Capt (rtd) Kojo Tiskata, member of the PNDC, has told newsmen in Lagos that Ghana's currency devaluation was, however, not imposed on the PNDC from any external body. Capt Tsikata, who was in Lagos as head of a five man Ghanaian team to deliver a special message from Flt-Lt Rawlings to President Ibrahim Babangida, said the decision to devalue was taken altogether by all members of the PNDC in order to solve the critical and serious economic problems facing Ghana. Commenting on the effects of the devaluation exercise, Captain Tsikata said that currency devaluation in a Third World country was "a very painful process". He however added that devaluation in Ghana was needed to save the economy from total disaster.

Capt Tsikata, who is also head of security, referred to the benefits that the nation has got out of the devaluation. He said Ghana had begun to earn more money from exports and that the Economic Recovery Programme launched by the PNDC had succeeded in halting the decline of Ghana's economy.

TUC want Socialism

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) prefers the socialist type of development for the country since it would lead the state to provide more basic necessities like housing, education and health for the people, Mr A.K. Yankey,secretary-general of the TUC has said. Opening a two-week seminar at the Labour College in Accra for 40 high level personnel drawn from all the 17 national unions of the TUC, he explained that the socialist type was the only way the few resources available could be fairly shared among the people.

Among other things, said Mr Yankey, under the socialist type of development, the poor in the society could afford their basic needs.

The secretary-general called for a limitation on the arms race without which all achievements on earth could be destroyed in one day.

Government condemns CIA plot against Libya

The government has condemned a plan being hatched by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States to destabilize the government of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

A statement issued in Accra said: "The attention of the Government of Ghana has been drawn to reports in the Washington Post concerning a CIA plan endorsed by the President of the United States of American to destabilize the Government of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiryia.

"The Government strongly condemns this reported plan and expresses its firm solidarity with the Government and people of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiryia.

"In expressing its condemnation, the Government recalls its own experiences of CIA destabilizing activities in Ghana and other Third World countries.

"All such activities are a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law and of the UN Charter which enjoin all states to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states.

"The Government calls on the United States of America, which professes to be the champion of liberty and human rights, to observe the common norms of international behaviour and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other states.

Opposition to Star Wars

Ghana has expressed opposition to US Presi- dent Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' programme, describing its security value as illusory. Ghana's delegate to the UN General drought stricken West African countries. Assembly's first committee (Political and Security), Mr Kwesi Simpson, said Ghana was opposed to the extension of the arms race to outer space which "should be preserved exclusively for peaceful purposes."

Mr Simposn, a Minister Counsellor at the Ghana Permanent Mission to the UN, was contributing to the committee's general debate He said the administration planned to spend on disarmament.

He expressed Ghana's concern at the possibility that a 'Star Wars' Programme could have a destabilising effect on existing arms limitation agreements such as the Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty (ABM).

Mr Simpson noted that ultimate security the 'Star Wars' Programme was supposed to ensure "will remain an illusion as ever before".

He suggested three steps towards complete disarmament: A nuclear weapons freeze, a pledge by nuclear weapons nations against a first strike policy and negotiations for all- round cuts in existing levels of nuclear armaments. Mr Simpson, however, noted that these measures, even if agreed upon by all concerned, "would be in vain under present circumstances".

Without an effective comprehensive test ban treaty, such a treaty totally prohibiting nuclear weapons test explosions was "more than ever before urgent" he added.

SUL not stopped

The Ministry of Trade has denied reports that it has stopped issuing special licences, popularly known as SUL.

A statement from the Ministry in Accra said there is no truth in these reports, as it still issues special licences to cover goods imported into the country with importers' own foreign exchange.

It said a new Imports and Exports (Special Licence) Regulation, 1985 (L.1. 1314) has been promulgated to enhance this facility.

Ban on yam exports lifted

The ban on the exportation of yams has been lifted, the Ministry of Agriculture has announced. A release by the Ministry in Accra asked exporters, especially farming groups, to contact the Ministry for the conditions attached to the exports and further directives.

Emulate Ghana's example

The United States has cited Ghana as an example and urged African states to rethink their economic policies and encourage farmers to produce more.

Alternate US representative at the UN, Ambassador Joseph Reed, told the UN General Assembly that "Ghana, on economic slide for at least a decade and only recently recovered from drought, gave priority atten- tion to the rural sector, and in a remarkable turnaround, has produced its first surplus corn crop in years." Some of the corn was brought by the US in a barter deal with Ghana and donated so some

Mr Reed, speaking during a day-long debate in the Assembly on "Africa's critical economic situation", said the Reagan administration was giving priority to the agricultural sector in Africa, supporting pricing and marketing re- forms and programmes for increased farmer productivity. about one billion dollars for agricultural research in Africa over the next 15 years.

C92 million from hospital fees

The new hospital fees introduced this year have so far yielded C92 million. The Deputy Director of Medical Services, Dr Moses Adibo, disclosed in an interview. Dr Adibo said there had been monthly increases in the of fees collected from amount various hospitals throughout the country.

This, he said, indicated that more and more reduction in the number of attendance at the time of introduction of the fees.

Dr Adibo said to check malpractices in the collection of fees, the Ministry had set up a monitoring unit which goes round the hospitals to assess the amount collected.

On the question of some fee collectors issuing half tickets, he said the Ministry was ware of it and would soon introduce new tickets which would plug the loopholes. Hospitals are allowed to disburse a percent- ge of the fees collected, to meet their immediate needs.

Dr Adibo advised Ghanaians not to relate the new fees charged in hospitals to the minimum daily wage since "people do not fall sick always."

Loss of hospital fees

Mr K. Bieni, an executive officer of the Kintampo Health Centre is helping the police in connection with the loss of C70,000 being hospital fees for the month of October.

According to Mr E.O. Brenya, Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge of Kintampo, Bieni said he kept the money in a refrigerator in his office when closing for the day:

He said Bieni alleged that he could not put the money in the safe because the medical officer had travelled with the key. Bieni said when he went to the office the next day, he found the money had "disappeared".

Criticism of Togo

Ghana has criticised Togo for causing the three-day meeting in Lagos of foreign affairs, trade and justice ministers of Ghana, Togo, Nigeria and Benin, to end in deadlock. A statement by Secretary of Foreign Affairs,

Dr Obed Asamoah, on his return from Lagos, Said that Togo's delegation had come to the meeting solely to mount a propaganda offen- sive against Ghana, stating that the primary interest was to indulge in rhetoric by accusing Ghana of being behind recent bomb explosions in Togo. Despite the deadlock the meeting had agreed that consultations should continue.

Meanwhile, a radio Ghana commentary has noted that the unsuccessful story from theLagos conference serves as a big blow to the Positive steps being taken by member-countries to forge closer ties and co-operation in the community.

The commentary regretted that Togo's accusation of Ghana being behind the recent bomb attacks in Lome is, to say the least, uncalled for, if not unfounded. If on the other hand the Togolese authorities had cause to suspect Ghana, they could have looked for better and appropriate avenues to register their protest. To have gone beyond that to deceive Ghana into attending a meeting which was supposed to be sacred to the December Lagos accord to combat economic crime in the four countries, was in itself a stab in the back, the Commentary added.

Two more charged as CIA agents

Two more Ghanaians appeared before two separate public tribunals in Accra charged with assisting the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in tapping the telephones of leading government officials. This brings to four the number of people so far being tried in Ghana for being informants of the CIA. The two, Stephen Baffour Ofosu-Addo, a chief superintendent of police with the National Intelligence organisation, and Robert Yaw Appiah, a former technical officer with the Posts and Telecommunications Corpora- tion, pleaded not guilty.

Each of the accused is facing five counts of doing acts to sabotage the state in contra- vention of the state secrets act, which are punishable by death.

The prosecution has demanded the maximum sentence.

Special prosecutor, Thomas Ahlija, told the tribunal that Ofosu-Addo had been a CIA agent for about 15 years and that he regularly delivered to the CIA station chief in Ghana transcripts of tape recordings which had come into his possession in the course of his national duties. Felix Peasah, a former employee of the Special Branch and later a security investigator at the American Embassy, and Theodore Aliedu, an inspector in the Intelligence Service, are the two other Ghanaians being tried on similar charges.


Release of jailed Benin nationals

Nine nationals of Benin Republic serving jail terms in Nigeria have been released on the order of President Ibrahim Babangida. Announcing this in a television programme in Lagos, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Lt- Col. John Shagaya, said the release followed a recent appeal by President Mathieu Kerekou. Lt-Col. Shagaya said the nine Beninese were convicted of offences such as smuggling and currency trafficking. He disclosed that in reciprocation of the gesture, the Beninese authorities have set free four Nigerian officials arrested about three months ago in Benin Republic. They were said to have crossed the border illegally.

Radio chief denies subversion

The Chairman of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, Alhaji Yaya Abubakr, has refuted an allegation by the Sunday Concord that the corporation is subverting the interests of the Federal Military Government.

Addressing a news conference in Lagos, Alhaji Yaya said the FRCN, as a Federal government institution, could not be accused of subversion because it was very much aware of its responsibility to the nation. He appealed to the news media to be very judicious in their publications to ensure the continued peace and stability of the country.

Stop profits repatriation

The Nigerian Labour Council has submitted proposals for revamping the economy to the Federal Government. The Congress called for a temporary embargo on profits repatriation by multinational companies and the rescheduling of foreign debts to a level not more than 20% of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Congress opposes wage cuts

The Nigerian Labour Congress has reiterated its opposition for the wage cuts announced recently by the Federal Government. In a reaction to a news analysis on the pay cuts broadcast by Radio Nigeria, the Congress said its position was that by focusing on salaries and wages to reduce expenditure, the Govern- ment was, according to it, chasing shadows. It claimed that the real wasteful expenditure was in the areas of Government contracts and defence.

Press comment on coup in Liberia

The Daily Times and the Nigerian Tribune, writing on the coup attempt in Liberia, concluded that General Doe was lucky to have survived it. The papers say the last coup shows that General Doe is no longer acceptable as a genuine ruler of the Liberian people and that he cannot continue to impose himself on them.

The Times believes that the abortive coup is also a vote of no confidence in the conduct and verdict of the recently concluded general election in which Doe was declared the winner. The papers advise the Liberian leader not to use the abortive coup as an excuse to engage in another round of witch-hunting of his political opponents because such a course of action will only serve to further alienate him from his people.

The Times says an antidote to further coup attempts in Liberia will be for General Doe to grant a general amnesty to all political prisoners and those he has driven into exile. The Tribune on its part points out that although General Quiwonkpa, the leader of the abortive coup, is now dead for a better Liberia, his exit should not be a source of jubilation for General Doe and his supporters. This, according to the Tribune, is because until General Doe rectifies his shortcomings which warranted the last coup, no one will miss him when his belated end comes.

The Times and the Tribune are confident that the wishes of the Liberian people will eventually triumph.

talking drums 1985-11-25 Ghana-CIA spy affair - swap deal in the making