U.S. Marines Fly Food to City Where Doe's Lions Prey on Hungry People
Sep. 26, 1990
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ U.S. Marines on Wednesday flew emergency food and medical supplies into the capital, where pet lions of slain President Samuel Doe reportedly were preying on starving people inside his mansion.
A cease-fire between four armies in Monrovia held for the fifth day, although gunshots crackled occasionally.
The Daily Mail newspaper of neighboring Freetown, Sierra Leone, quoted one of Doe's generals as saying two hungry pet lions of the ousted leader were prowling around the presidential residence in Monrovia, eating people weakened by hunger. Many people sought refuge in the mansion during the height of the fighting among rebel factions and Doe's soldiers.
The state-owned newspaper quoted Gen. Henry Chibli said the lions normally ate 275 pounds of meat a day but that Doe had been unable to provide them with food in his last days.
Maj. Chris Otulana, a spokesman for a five-nation West African army sent to enforce a truce in Liberia's 9-month-old civil war, appealed for more international aid to stop people from dying of hunger and disease.
The Marine helicopters carried 1.3 tons of emergency food and medical equipment from Freetown to Monrovia. The supplies belong to the Belgian chapter of Doctors without Borders, which plans to reopen a field hospital in the city.
The Belgian doctors were forced to close their operations last month when rebel leader Charles Taylor advanced into the capital and the hospital was hit by rockets and shells.
Otulana urged Taylor to open talks with the West African task force ''so we can jaw jaw rather than war war.'' He spoke in an interview with The Associated Press.
Taylor has demanded the withdrawal of the West Africans, whom he accuses of wanting to install a puppet government in Liberia.
He has declared himself president and is trying to install his own government. He said he will hold elections on Oct. 10 to choose a representative from each of Liberia's 13 counties to join the government, which he has described as a temporary administration that would organize general elections.
The West African plan also proposes elections, but says they should be organized by an interim government already chosen by Liberian opposition parties, businessmen and clergymen.
Taylor's aides had reported he was to meet Tuesday with Brig. Gen. David Nimley, commander of the remnants of Doe's army, but no meeting took place, according to the French news agency Agence France-Presse.
Taylor has made no contact with the West African force or those of rival rebel leader Prince Johnson.
Johnson and Nimley have agreed to the West African peace plan. Johnson has said Taylor has no right to call his own elections and that his proposal is unrealistic given the war-ravaged state of the nation.
Taylor started the civil war on Dec. 24 when he invaded from neighboring Ivory Coast. Johnson fought alongside him but formed his own rebel faction after the two quarreled. Johnson's forces captured Doe earlier this month and tortured him to death.
More than 5,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting. More than half a million Liberians have fled to neighboring states and at least another million of the 2.3 million population is displaced within the country.
Monrovia has been without electricity, running water and telephone communications for three months. Few food supplies have reached the capital.