[A] ... struggle for leadership of the West African republic of Liberia began on December 24, 1989, when US educated rebel leader Charles Taylor (1948-) invaded Liberia from neighboring Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Taylor's forces, called the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), sought to take power from brutal dictator Samuel K. Doe (1951?-90), whose military regime had ruled the country since... . By September 1990 Taylor controlled most of Liberia but had not been able to take the the capital, Monrovia, where President Doe held out in the executive palace. The warring factions, largely divided along ethnic lines, were complicated by a split that year between Taylor and Prince Yormie (Yeduo) Johnson (1959-), head of the Gio tribe. The three-way fighting now was between Johnson's small Gio group, Taylor's more numerous Mano tribe (with many Gio who had stayed loyal to him), and Doe's forces (consisting mainly of the Krahn and Mandingo tribes). A peacekeeping force organized by five West African nations from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ostensibly sent to stabilize the situation, was spurned by Taylor, who mistrusted the force's neutrality. (Early in the war President Doe had sought help from the United States without success.) In September 1990 Prince Johnson's small band caught, tortured, and killed Doe, and Johnson declared himself president; at the same time, the head of Doe's presidential guard, General David Nimblay, assumed leadership of Doe's supporters, now called the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO). Johnson and Nimblay then agreed to support an interim government chosen by ECOWAS. ECOWAS forces joined Johnson's rebels to fight against Taylor (bearing out Taylor's suspicions), although their relationship was not friendly. Now a stalemate set in, with all three factions still vying for control. Following a peace agreement in August 1995, Taylor, Johnson, and General Alhaji G. V. Kromah formed a ruling council with three other warlords (relatively powerless), each of whom occupied his own own floor in the executive palace and ran various ministries... [Further negotiations resulted in a peace plan in January 1996.] During the [warfare of 1989-97], at least 150,000 civilians suffered death during the routine looting and killing rampages carried out by various militias, or by starvation caused by agricultural and industrial ruin.