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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Should aggression be rewarded?
After waging their war against Charles Taylor, Liberia's rebels have got their way, with the former president now in exile in Nigeria.

The rebels will also have a say in Liberia's new administration as part of the peace deal that ended the war.

Likewise, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being resolved by giving the rebels key positions in government, with a similar situation in Burundi.

Is it right to compromise with rebel forces?


Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Rebels consist of extremist in their pursuit of supposed better inclusive governance. If their mode of violent expression for lack of compromise is outlawed, what alternative means of getting the incumbents in government to listen is sactionable by the entire world, especially in Africa when incumbency is interpreted as TOTALITARIANISM?
Dammy, Nigeria

To assume all democracy can be achieved by peaceful demonstration is a non-starter for representative government. It is sometimes necessary however unfortunate to take up arms against tyranny. The US is a good example. Our founding fathers made sure that there was a balance of power when they wrote our constitution. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Even though the US military is as powerful as it is, it is no match against its own people. If ever one tried to seize power within this country it would be met with certain doom as it can't fight against so many. We vote in our leaders through peaceful exchange of power, but always just beneath the surface lay a dormant force that if needed can be called forth.
Richard Wassner, USA

Tricky. One mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist. To remove tyranny yes, it may be justified. Democracy is not about armed struggle otherwise all the people who are fighting for whatever reason are practicing democracy. The Russian revolution, is a good example of the dangers of so called democracy through violence where people rise up. Martin Luther King, suffragettes, Nelson Mandela and peaceful demonstration, by the masses are the ideal. There are only two roads. And the only workable one is talking. Let's hope we all learn to talk and more importantly to LISTEN.
Scott Wallace, UK / Japan

Rebels are victims of injustices committed against them by their own tyrannical regimes. And the only tool which is often at their disposal when attempting to oust such ruthless governments is taking up of arms. Therefore rebels deserve to be compromised with.
Samuel Bior Gayo, Australia

Yes!! Rebellion is a way of expressing opposition and their inclusion could be one step ahead in the road to democracy.
Doma, Ethiopia/Switzerland

Considering the nature of certain African leaders, it is justifiable to compromise with rebels
Joseph Kaifala, Sierra Leone
Considering the dogmatic nature of certain African leaders, I would accept that it is justifiable to compromise with rebels. Liberia would have still be under tyranny and despotism if not because of the pressure mounted by the rebels. It is however pathetic that some of these rebels like the RUF in Sierra Leone, did not know what they wanted. If the rebels present a tangible reason for rebellion, I think they should be compromised with and given consent.
Joseph Kaifala, Sierra Leone

If the rebels represent a large portion of the population and were excluded before then I am afraid so. It's called democracy and sometimes it has to be fought for.
John, France

It is not a question whether aggression should be rewarded. It is a fact that aggression and the use of force are rewarded when it is done by someone who is capable to use a lot of it. It is naive to think that you can come to terms with any group willing to fight, without rewarding them in some way. They became rebels just because they want a share of the power. If you are weak, you won't have power.
Jos, The Netherlands

It is only right for the rebels to be accorded a position in Liberia's new administration. Charles Taylor was himself a rebel who took power at the muzzle of a gun and deserves to be ousted the way it did. Getting both factions to form a new government, I think is the better solution.
Mohamed Arshad Raji, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I do believe it might sound like encouraging uprisings, but I greatly believe that it is a matter of weighing the two evils. If we see that compromising with the rebel minimized the suffering of the Liberians masses it should be done. The question, I think, is that those who always support the rebel activities in the third world (developing nations) must know that there will be time when the will pay for all the losses of Africa.
Celian Kidega, Sudanese living in Australia

The situation indicates that the people were with the rebels
Khalid Latif, US
Taylor was not a popular leader. He didn't even have a strong enough army to defeat them. The situation indicates that the people were with the rebels. Therefore, the rebels being in the administration should work. But it is important that they are completely disarmed and have no organised groups.
Khalid Latif, US

No, rebels are usually no better than the people they try to replace. Beside Africans should practice their culture, which is peaceful change in leadership.
Henry S. Brewer, Liberia

For some reason, many in the press and in some government circles have taken the automatic position during the last few years that all revolutionaries are bad. The logical extension of this attitude is horrifying. I guess Nelson Mandela and the ANC should have all been shot? Maybe the French Maquis and FFI during World War II were detestable? Applied to Africa, this attitude is especially horrible. It means the United Nations is expected automatically to favour tyrants like Taylor and Kabila.
James Castro, USA

The rebels should be included in the new government for the sake of peace but not to take key positions like president, vice, speaker or defence. Should this happen the Liberian people will be doomed for another anarchy. The same mistakes made in the past where armed men were not disarmed along with the restructuring of the army should not be repeated. This was due to rewarding armed men with higher positions as was seen in Taylor's case. Let the rebels lay down their arms and cooperate with the new government for election. During the election they are free like any other Liberian to run for any position but for now we are scared.
Paul Payway, USA

This goes a long way in encouraging disgruntled individuals to stage uprisings
Benjamin Kofa Fyneah, Liberia
I think it is a HUGE mistake to give rebel forces positions in government. This goes a long way in encouraging disgruntled individuals to stage uprisings with the hope that some kind of legitimizing of their selfish ambitions, will be achieved, through governmental postings.
Benjamin Kofa Fyneah, Liberia

Liberia's rebels have a right to be represented in the government. After all they are Liberians and deserve that. However, elections should be called soon and the citizens of that nation be allowed to select a civilian ruler and not a military ruler.
Suleiman, Malaysia

A number of the 'rebel' leaders in Liberia are mercenaries and veterans of the conflicts in Sierra Leone or the Ivory Coast. As non-violent opposition of the type adopted in Zimbabwe has consistently failed, why should the younger generation of African leaders assume that anything OTHER than aggression and tribal violence is necessary to gain power?
Alexander C, US

All rebels were once human beings who tried to get their point across
Kerstin Carlsson, Sweden
All rebels were once human beings who tried to get their point across. When it failed, they resorted to making their claims with weapons. Whereas it isn't right to "reward" armed guerrilla forces after a ceasefire, it certainly is right to make sure that their claims are listened to, and if possible, that they are included in the democratic system of government. The problem is that while the people crave peace, the ones who most loudly demand for it are usually not prepared to stop fighting once they get it. Call it the "Catch-22" of democracy if you will.
Kerstin Carlsson, Sweden

No!!!!!! Rebels should not be given power at all!! They will come up again with the rebellious act even when in power which will bring the war again... Please no.
Margaret, Kenya

Rebellions and civil wars are not incidents that happen is isolation. They occur as part of a vicious cycle of events; bad governance, greed and corruption. Greed on the part of the incumbent power holders or/or greed on the part of the rebels who want that power. The only way to avoid 'rewarding rebels' is to avoid setting in motion this vicious cycle. In order words, avoid the commencement of rebellion in the first place. If any country fails to prevent a rebellion, and once the rebellion has sparked off, you really don't have a choice but to 'reward' the rebellion. What with the rush of the capitalist arms magnates who literally and aggressively promote and incite these war just in order to make sales and huge profits? And so because of the havoc, sufferings and deaths that will be caused to innocent people, commonsense will demand that any reasonable and responsible person should 'yield' and negotiate and 'compromise'.
Dalscior, Ghana

No, aggression should not be awarded. The rebel factions all committed atrocities. All the rebel leaders should be barred from taking any positions in the new Liberia. Charles Taylor came into power by the gun with hundreds of thousands slaughtered and at the end he said he gave up power at his own will because he loved the Liberian people. What he didn't say was the love he had for the dead.
James Horace, USA

Aggression and the culture of impunity should not be rewarded
George Siaway, USA
Aggression and the culture of impunity should not be rewarded. Former rebels who have the requisite political or technical skills and cleared of atrocities should be allowed to compete for jobs. Most importantly, it would be a grave mistake for the Interim Liberian leadership to campaign for general pardon for mass murderers without accounting for their actions during the Liberian war.
George Siaway, USA

Every struggle has its winners and losers. By giving "rebels" responsibility, they become both part of the solution and part of the problem. Governing a country is their problem as well. Remember that every revolution has its refugees, after the American revolution there were plenty of Americans who had to flee their home country. We cannot say if compromising will turn out right, that is for history to decide.
Anon, Nederland

I say yes with a choke in my throat. However, since day one in world political history, we have seen that might makes influences. The road to peace lies in giving the Liberian trouble-makers what they want. Even in British history, the Witan met and "rewarded" William the Conqueror, with the Crown and throne of England in 1066, all in the name of peace. The peace in Liberia is illusive since the weapons were not taken away from the rebels. This affords them with the option to strike again. But if any compromise will pacify them, why should we not give them their wish? The former government tried the "orthodox" way by trying to beat the rebels into submission but they proved to be unbeatable. So allow them to join the new Govt for peace's sake.
Mancka Frederick Delaney, Liberian/American

Liberia should follow the amicable example the United Nations has instituted in Sierra Leone
Joe S, Liberia
I think it's ridiculous that individuals who are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians can be awarded prominent positions in government. This will set the precedence that it is useless to wait for and contest elections in Africa. Anyone who wants power can just go out and buy guns and drugs and terrorize a nation. These people need to be brought to justice. None of them have Liberia or the Liberian people at heart. They are nothing but pirates to the Liberian people. Liberia should follow the amicable example the United Nations has instituted in Sierra Leone.
Joe S, Liberia

Peace is not just a word, but it's a complete commitment. If the rebels are committed to peace and they have already proven that why should they not have their say? I think all peace lovers should be given the chance to contribute to the government and the peace process. I hope this leadership will serve the Liberian people rightly not to choose one tribe or religion over the other after all, all men are equal.
Abraham Khalil Fofana III, Omaha NE USA/Liberia

Are the rebels fighting to "liberate" the masses, or are they in it for themselves? I am suspicious of anyone who takes up arms in the name of righting past and present wrongs and setting others free. With Charles Taylor gone, one would have thought that the Liberian rebels have reached what they said was their objective. Not only have they been rewarded with key positions in the new interim government, they seem to have also succeeded in electing a man after their own hearts. Let me strongly ask the international community not to leave the fate of the Liberian people to the interim government.

Liberia should have been placed under UN trusteeship, and I know the Liberian people would have welcomed this. If the peace agreement that brought Charles Taylor to power was, in retrospect, bad for Liberia, the one that has just been reached in Ghana has the potential of being worse if it allows the remnants of Charles Taylor's government and the rebels to rule the Country.
George Werner, Liberia/USA

If aggressors are rewarded what will stop another rebel from emerging in these war torn countries? In Liberia Taylor was rewarded now it is the LURD rebels being rewarded. The same happened in Congo, Kabila was rewarded now it is Biemba. Please, please stop the rot.
Abba Munansangu, Zambia

Unfortunately, that is the situation with find ourselves in Africa, but something has to be done to achieve peace for our born and unborn generation.
Denola Adekoya, Nigeria

Of course! Otherwise they will continue fighting against whatever regime takes over. Ignoring the rebels and their demands will not make them go away or give up fighting. Chances are also that they may have some justifiable grievances that should be examined.
Howard Lee, USA

It is not right to compromise with rebel forces. However, by definition, it would be impossible to create peace, however that is defined, without compromising with rebels. My worry, though, is that this is becoming a dangerous precedence, especially in democracies such as Ivory Coast. There were strong justifications for DR Condo and Liberia, but I think Ivory Coast's was a bad one.
Stephen Manah, SLeone/USA

Without a compromise, there will be no peace and more civilians will die
Halima Mohamed, UK
You have to compromise and include rebels in the power sharing, they definitely have blood on their hands but so does the government in most cases, without a compromise, there will be no peace and more civilians will die. So the tradition of securing a government post and power for yourself in Africa through the barrel of a gun or a sharp machete is still on.
Halima Mohamed, UK

Experience has shown that warlords and freedom fighters do not make good leaders (with the exception of Ugandan president and Nelson Mandela, respectively). However, I think the rebels should be given positions in the government for peace sake but the post of President or head of the ruling council should be exclusively given to a non-combatant. This is one of the instances where reality is superior to legality.

It is same reason why (just to bring peace to Liberia) Nigeria granted political asylum to Charles Taylor - an indicted war criminal, who killed over a thousand Nigerian peace keepers and murdered two Nigerian journalists during his own rebellion against President Samuel Doe. It saddens me to see aggression, human right abusers, child soldier users, etc being rewarded in any form for whatever reasons. But any step made in order to bring a lasting peace and stop further bloodshed is a step made in the right direction.
Thaddeus Ezeji, Nigeria/USA

If peacekeeping and enforcement is to become truly effective, there can be no compromise with armed rebel forces in any situation. They must necessarily put down their guns, and enter into democratic process, learning to win over minds and votes, using peaceful political means. By letting them in, without forcing them to learn, another violent upheaval and more loss of lives is sure to follow.
Robert Morpheal, Canada

I don't think rebels should have their say in any administration whatever. It will be of no use and that can be clearly seen in the case of Sierra Leone. Besides, people should go through the right channels to gain power and not through the power of the gun. We should put an end to it in Africa or else Africa will be something else in the near future.
Isha Sesay, UK





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