ECOWAS threatens sanctions against Liberian dissidents

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- ECOWAS leaders Friday threatened sanctions against dissident Liberian armed groups, especially the Liberian Front for Reconciliation and Democracy (LFRD), which is fighting the government of President Charles Taylor.
At the end of their two-day 25th ordinary Summit in Dakar, leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States requested the Liberian government to furnish the necessary information to the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council for the imposition of unspecified sanctions on the dissidents.
They "strongly condemned the activities of the armed movements," and expressed deep concern at the continued rebel attacks against the government of Liberia, particularly in the country's northern Lofa County, with the "attendant risks of destabilisation.
" They also expressed concern at the repercussions of the UN sanctions on the people of Liberia, noting that the Monrovia government "needed assistance that would enable it to embark on economic and social reconstruction of the country.
" ECOWAS brought Liberia's bloody seven-year civil war to an end in 1997, but fresh fighting has erupted in Lofa, amid sanctions imposed by the UN in May 2001, for Liberia's alleged arms-for- diamond trade with Sierra Leone's rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
The communiqué from the ECOWAS Summit in Dakar repeated the community's call on the Liberian government to initiate a national reconciliation policy that would involve all sections of the society.
It also expressed the willingness by ECOWAS to provide the necessary assistance.
The sub-regional organisation had tried unsuccessfully to stave off the UN sanctions on Liberia.
Foreign Minister Monie Captan represented Liberia at the Dakar Summit.
On Sierra Leone, the ECOWAS leaders expressed satisfaction at the efforts by the Freetown government and the Joint Committee on Disarmament to implement the Demobilisation, Disarmament and Rehabilitation of (DDR).
They appealed to the international community to assist the Sierra Leonean government to complete the programme -- originally due to end this month -- and to resolve the humanitarian problems and promote the resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees, displaced persons and ex-combatants.
On the Mano River Union, which also groups Guinea as the third member, the Summit appealed to the Member States to intensify the dialogue initiated by their Foreign Ministers, in order to restore lasting peace in the sub-region.
To this end, the ECOWAS leaders congratulated the Mano River women's Network for its initiative towards the establishment of dialogue between the three countries of the Union as a means of promoting durable peace in the sub-region.
On Guinea-Bissau, another restive ECOWAS member State, the communiqué expressed support for the ongoing rehabilitation and reconstruction process in that country, and called on the international community to honour its financial pledges of assistance.
It hailed the National Reconciliation Forum convened by the Ivorian government to heal the wounds in the aftermath of the controversial 2000 presidential election in that country.
The ECOWAS leaders urged Ivorian authorities to continue their efforts to consolidate the achievements from the Forum by ensuring genuine reconciliation among their citizens.
The Heads of State of ten of the 15 ECOWAS countries attended Thursday's opening of the Summit, while Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Guinea and Cape Verde were represented.

21 december 2001 19:39:00

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