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Charles Julu Defends The 1994 Failed Coup Plot

Retired General Charles Julu, the man who stormed and took over the Executive Mansion in 1994 says he staged the military takeover to fill "a vacuum" to prevent then rebel leader Charles Taylor from taking power.

General Julu, former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) during the latter days of the Samuel Kanyon Doe government, said he took over the Mansion to occupy the vacuum created by the expiration of the mandate of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU).

Julu, then commander of President Doe's elite Executive Mansion Guard Battalion said he arrived in the country on the eve of the failed takeover and was lodged in a hotel before he walked past troops of the West African Peacekeeping Force, ECOMOG and occupied the president's office.

"There was a meeting in Ghana and the tenure of the interim government had expired, so I came over and picked the chance and took over the vacuum Mansion," he said.

The feared ex military officer was testifying Thursday at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia's ongoing Thematic and Institutional Inquiry Public Hearing on the Contemporary History of the Conflict at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.

On September 15, 1994, Gen. Julu under the banner of the "New Horizon for New Direction" surfaced in the capitol and staged a pre-dawn takeover of the Executive Mansion demanding to announce the takeover on state radio.

But troops of the ECOMOG peacekeeping force backed by military gun ships and artilleries ejected him from the mansion. Julu was days later arrested by angry civilians around the US Embassy in Mamba Point apparently attempting to escape from the country. He was tried for sedition and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The failed coup leader was later released during the infamous April 6, 1996 armed conflict in Monrovia.

But Gen. Julu told commissioners of the TRC that he staged the coup because forces of then rebel leader Taylor were fast advancing on the capitol and he wanted to prevent him from taking power by the muzzle of the gun.

He said if the coup had succeeded he would had ruled the country for between six months to one year before returning the country to civilian rule. He said he staged the coup along with a single bodyguard but when he arrived at the Executive Mansion he met the other soldiers in formation.

Under the theme: "Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors," the ongoing hearings are addressing the root causes of the conflict, including its military and political dimensions.

The hearings are focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005.

The TRC was established to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.

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