Official Foreign Releases
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
September 25, 1998
Government Statement on the Liberian Situation
The United States would like to sincerely thank the Government of Liberia, and especially President Charles Taylor, for the enormous cooperation and assistance we received in amicably resolving the situation at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. Through out ongoing collaboration and close friendship with the Government of Liberia, and with the support and assistance of other West African states--especially Nigcria and its Head of State, General Abdusalam Abubakar--we were able to resolve the problem. Roosevelt Johnson and his party were flown from the embassy compound in Monrovia early this afternoon on two ECOMOG helicopters. The Johnson party will transit Sierra Leone to a third country in West Africa.
Now that the situation has been resolved, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the Government and people of Liberia on the important task of rebuilding Liberia.
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement by James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesman
October 7, 1998
Situation in Liberia
The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia has suspended routine operations because of tensions arising from the presence of Roosevelt Johnson in the Embassy Compound and the shooting outside the building on September 19, during which two Americans were wounded. This unfortunate event was followed by a period of heightened tension, which led to the deployment of ECOMOG troops to ensure the security of our personnel.
The Government of the United States expects that the Government of Liberia will investigate the incident, determine who was responsible, and hold them accountable. We expect to work with the Liberian Government to re-establish our normally good relations with the Government and the people of Liberia.
The White House
Release, September 29, 1998
OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
September 29, 1998
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Liberia is just emerging from a 7-year civil war. Since democratic
elections were held in July 1997 there have been moments of instability in that country. In the past 10 days, conflict erupted between Liberian security forces and supporters of another former faction leader, Roosevelt Johnson.
On the morning of September 19, Liberian government security forces
fired on a small group of Liberians led by former Ulimo Krahn faction
leader Roosevelt Johnson, who was speaking with U.S. Embassy officials
outside the Embassy compound, after Johnson and his group were initially refused refuge. When Liberian government security forces opened fire on the group, the Embassy officials fled into the U.S. Embassy, and in the chaos were joined by the Johnson party. Two Americans were wounded in the melee and four members of the Johnson party were killed. The U.S. personnel injured in the gunfire were a government contractor and an Embassy staff member.
Responding to a U.S. request for enhanced security, forces of the
Economic Community of West Africa Observer Group (ECOMOG) subsequently
positioned themselves in a defensive perimeter around the Embassy.
Later, a group of 23 supporters of Mr. Johnson was discovered hiding on the Embassy grounds. After extensive negotiations between President Taylor and representatives of the U.S. Government and western African states, permission was obtained to airlift Mr. Johnson and his party to Freetown, Sierra Leone. This was accomplished without incident on September 25, 1998.
The situation in Monrovia continues to be uncertain and could
deteriorate. Although ECOMOG forces remain in the vicinity of the
Embassy compound, their numbers have been reduced. Our Embassy believes that security could deteriorate rapidly during President Taylor's absence for an official visit to France. The Embassy does, however, project that, barring further incidents, security should significantly improve over the course of the next several weeks as factional tensions ease in the wake of Mr. Johnson's departure. There are approximately 230 non-official American citizens in Liberia and 29 official Americans at the Embassy.
On September 27, 1998, due to the tenuous security situation and the
potential threat to American citizens and the Embassy in Monrovia, a
stand-by response and evacuation force of approximately 30 U.S.
military personnel from the U.S. European Command deployed to Freetown, Sierra Leone. About half of this unit has moved onto the Navys coastal patrol craft, USS CHINOOK (PC-9), which is operating in the waters off Monrovia. The U.S. military personnel are prepared, if needed, to augment the Embassy's security unit in Monrovia and to conduct an evacuation of American citizens, if required. Although the U.S. military personnel are equipped for combat, this action is being under-taken solely for the purpose of preparing to protect American citizens and property. The U.S. forces will redeploy as soon as it is determined that the threat to the Embassy compound has ended or, if an evacuation is necessary, it is completed.
I have taken this action pursuant to my constitutional authority to
conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress
fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action to assist in Embassy security and the security of American citizens overseas.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON