I was heartened by the Aug. 8 editorial about Liberia. For the first time, the problem and the solution are stated simply and clearly.
Samuel Doe is the problem. This is not a war being waged to bring the two rebel leaders to power. It is a desperate attempt to try to end the brutal and corrupt reign of terror that Samuel Doe has been allowed to conduct for almost a decade. Until the barriers to the executive mansion are disassembled, Liberia will continue to hemorrhage with the blood of innocent men, women and children.
The solution is for the United States to provide the Economic Communities of West African States with at least the financial assistance for a multilateral peace-keeping force to Liberia. ECOWAS estimates that cost to be $50 million. This is an enormous cost for a part of the world with some of the worst poverty on the planet to bear alone. It is a small cost for the United States to pay to stop the killing.
In a letter to the chairman of ECOWAS, several prominent Liberians living here asked that the peace-keeping force stay in Liberia until internationally supervised and certified elections are held and a constitutional government is installed. To ensure that there is time for healing the deep and ragged wounds and to diminish the terror that has afflicted all Liberians, ECOWAS and the Organization of African Unity should also facilitate a meeting of representatives of all political parties, the Interfaith Mediating Group and the forces involved in the military conflict. The goal of such a meeting would be to form a broad-based interim government for a fixed period of time until elections can be held.
Without careful, patient and deliberate attention to our recent history, the end of Samuel Doe's rule could begin another reign of torture and corruption.
The four months I spent in Liberia's infamous BTC prison, often in solitary confinement, and the additional five months I spent in another prison, have not caused me as much pain and anger as the hundreds of murders and atrocities that have been committed in recent days. It is made all the more painful because unlike the urgent and forceful responses to crises in other regions, the United States has been silent.
Liberia has shared a very special relationship with the United States. Our histories tie us together in a unique way. Our long years of service to U.S. strategic interests tie us together in another way. Special relationships deserve special attention. Liberians deserve that attention and help now.
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF Alexandria