For the better part of a day last week, no one knew who was in control of Liberia (pop. 2 million), the African nation founded in 1847 by freed American slaves. Diplomats in Monrovia reported that rebels had attacked the Executive Mansion at dawn Tuesday, using artillery and heavy machine guns in a full-scale battle with government troops. Soon after the fighting began, former Army Commander General Thomas Quiwonkpa announced on the radio that he had overthrown President Samuel K. Doe, 33, whom he accused of corruption and brutality. That evening, however, Doe assured his countrymen that the coup attempt had failed, although Quiwonkpa was still at large.
Five years ago, Quiwonkpa helped Doe seize power in a bloody coup against President William Tolbert. But the young President distrusted his former comrade and dismissed him from his army post. Last month presidential elections were held; despite widespread reports of voting fraud, Doe imperiously declared himself the winner. At week's end the President announced that Quiwonkpa had been spotted near the radio station and shot dead. Quiwonkpa's bullet-riddled body was displayed at the army barracks where he once had an office.NICARAGUA Beyond the Diplomatic Pale
There was a time when a job at the U.S. embassy in Managua was the envy of many Nicaraguans. The 200-odd nationals employed by the U.S. as guards, drivers, administrators and accountants earn at least twice as much as most of their countrymen. Last week those jobs suddenly seemed less appealing. Since Nov. 2, the leftist Sandinista government has summoned at least 17 embassy employees for interrogation at a nearby security compound. Some reported afterward that they were forcibly detained for up to 13 hours by security agents who subjected them to abusive and threatening treatment.
The detainees complained that they were shunted from location to location with their eyes closed and their head between their legs, then put in small, dark cells. The Sandinistas' harsh questions reportedly delved into the detainees' private lives and the internal workings of the U.S. embassy. All were accused of being CIA plants and of being "counterrevolutionaries" because they worked for the U.S. Washington responded by lodging a sharp diplomatic protest. The Sandinistas promptly issued a statement declaring that the interrogations were "strictly internal" and therefore "outside the sphere of diplomatic relations."