ECOWAS re-states cease-fire call despite Liberia's objection

  Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- ECOWAS Wednesday re-stated its call for a cease-fire between the Liberian government and rebels of the self-styled Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), despite the reported rejection of the call by the Monrovia government of President Charles Taylor.
   "They are entitled to their reaction," ECOWAS spokesperson Adrienne Diop told PANA in Lagos.
   "But ECOWAS is sticking to its decision," she said, in an apparent reference to the resolutions adopted by ECOWAS leaders at their meeting in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire, at the weekend.
   Acting on the recommendation of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, the Heads of State called for an immediate cease-fire and dialogue as part of measures aimed at ending the fighting between government soldiers and the rebels in some parts of Liberia.
But the Liberian Government said it was "baffled" by the call, which it said suggested a parity between the government and the rebels.
"Calling for a cease-fire at a time when the Liberian government has already broken the back of a very large attack in Gbarnga, in Artington and in Klay, will only give the terrorists (rebels) the opportunity to regroup and attack Liberia," Information Minister Reginald Goodridge said in a radio interview.
But Diop noted that the position of the Minister was at variance with the Liberian government's position during the meeting in Cote d'Ivoire, saying ECOWAS' efforts to broker peace in the country cannot succeed while fighting is going on.
Taylor led a 1989 rebellion against the late President Samuel Doe, that triggered Liberia's seven-year civil war, which ended in 1997.
ECOWAS brought that war to an end to pave way for the 1997 general elections that swept Taylor into power.

22 may 2002 15:50:00

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