July 4, 2003
A meeting of West African regional defense staff chiefs in the Ghanaian capital Accra approved the set up of a 3000-strong "interpositional force", to keep the peace in Liberia and a total of 5000 peacekeepers, with the extra troops being supplied by the United States, South Africa and Morocco. An ECOWAS report estimated the cost of a six month deployment of the force to be $104-million, but that a 'robust' force was needed because of the difficulties of the Liberian terrain.
Former Liberian warlord Roosevelt Johnson (who has close links to Nigeria) was picked up by armed men from a hotel in Ivory Coast's economic capital, Abidjan. Hotel workers in the affluent suburb of Deux-Plateaux said Johnson and two other Liberians were taken away from their rooms by unidentified people in a red BMW. At least one man was injured in a shootout at the suburban hotel on the evening of June 30, as Johnson's guards fired back at the abductors. Ivorian security officials said they had no information that Johnson had been picked up.
Johnson led a faction of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO). Johnson's faction, ULIMO-J, split away as a result of divisions within ULIMO in 1994. Earlier this year, President Taylor named two of Johnson's former associates in ULIMO-J as leaders of the new rebel group, Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). In January, Roosevelt's name had been mentioned in the same breath as Liberian mercenaries (former ULIMO fighters) in Ivorian military uniforms working along the western border area. MODEL representatives have disassociated themselves from Roosevelt's various public statements. - Adam Geibel