Liberia: Sekou Damate Conneh Seen at Alhaji G. V. Kromah’s Funeral, But Very Frail
Monrovia – The once feared and fierce rebel leader, Sekou Damate Conneh, who has been out of the public spectacle since the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, made his first public appearance on Wednesday during the state funeral of his fallen compatriot, Alhaji G. V. Kromah.
Sekou Damate Conneh, is former leader of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) faction formed during the Liberian Civil War to oust former President Charles Taylor.
But he appeared very frail and could barely take steps by himself. He was assisted to and given a seat near the table with the Book of Condolence, but he could not make an attempt to write, probably due to what appeared to stroke he is suffering from.
He was then assisted to the rare of the VIP stand where he remained until everyone had left before he left his seat.
The defunct LURD leader again was held by his relative and slowly taken out of the stadium. FrontPageAfrica attempted an interview but was denied.
With all of the questions posed to him, the former LURD strongman remained tight-lipped until he was taken out of the stadium.
Sekou Damate Conneh was born in 1960 in the town of Gbarnga, Liberia (Bong County) to an ethnic Mandingo Muslim family, Conneh attended St. Martin’s Cathedral School from 1966 to 1973. He attended William Tubman Methodist High School where he received his diploma in 1979.
During the period of civil war in the country, Conneh moved to Guinea. There he founded and served as the managing director of the Damate Corporation, an export and import business entity based in Conakry. The corporation’s main activity involved the trading of second-hand cars imported from Europe. In his testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia he claimed that he does not speak French, the official language of Guinea.
After the civil war ended and elections were held, Conneh returned to Liberia to resume his former job as a revenue agent for the Ministry of Finance.
Soon after, he quit and returned to car trading in Conakry. This time, Conneh began exporting second-hand cars purchased in Guinea to Liberia.
Liberian intelligence officers accused him of smuggling, and he was arrested and moved to a prison cell in Monrovia. His wife, Aisha Conneh, appealed to the then Guinean President Lansana Conté to intervene and ask for Conneh’s release. She was the daughter of Conte’s soothsayer. With his release obtained, Conneh returned to Guinea.
In April 1999, Conneh led several veteran opponents of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and formed a rebel movement known as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). LURD was to some extent a successor to United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO).