Taylor may not attend Liberian peace talks in Abuja

Monrovia- Liberia (PANA) -- President Charles Taylor may not attend this month's peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, because of "unacceptable demands" by armed Liberian dissidents, Information Minister Reginald Goodridge said Thursday.
"If a delegation even goes to Abuja, based on the request by ECOWAS, it will dialogue for peace and not on issues dealing with power-sharing," Goodridge told PANA in Monrovia.
The government has not named a delegation although a two-man ECOWAS delegation held talks with Taylor last week in Monrovia on the meeting.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obassanjo has offered to serve as facilitator of the talks, expected to bring together the government, opposition politicians and dissidents of the Liberia United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD), to thrash out their differences.
LURD has been fighting to unseat Taylor's government since 1999 in the north and west of the country.
Goodridge said government wants to dialogue for peace, but when "unnecessary demands," such as calling on a democratically-elected government to resign are being made, then the meeting is not for peace and reconciliation.
He said the government is planning a reconciliatory meeting in July in Monrovia, for Liberians to resolve their differences, "the Liberian way.
" "We should be thrashing out our differences at home and not in some neighbouring country," the Minister added.
Charles Bennie, a LURD spokesman has been quoted as saying his group wanted to dialogue for peace, but will not talk with Taylor, whose resignation they are demanding.
He said LURD would prefer to talk with any government delegation, but will not dialogue directly with Taylor, who declared a state of emergency in Liberia recently because of intensified insurgency by the dissidents.

07 march 2002 15:13:00

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