Taylor opposes ECOWAS peacekeeping force for Liberia

Monrovia- Liberia (PANA) -- President Charles Taylor is opposed to the deployment of any peacekeeping force in Liberia, the local press Thursday quoted his aide as saying.
"Liberia does not need a peacekeeping force," Taylor's Press Secretary Vaanii Passewe quoted the President as telling an ECOWAS fact-finding military mission in Monrovia Wednesday.
The five-man ECOWAS delegation arrived at the weekend to assess the military situation in the country based on the decision of ECOWAS leaders at their May Summit in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire.
The ECOWAS decision was prompted by the escalation in the battle between the Liberian government and the insurgent Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) movement, which has been fighting to depose Taylor since 1999.
A conference by Liberians convened in Abuja, Nigeria early this year had called for a "stabilisation force" to stem the fighting and address the attendant humanitarian crisis.
But Taylor told the visiting ECOWAS team what Liberia needed was the support of the regional body for the peace initiative by Moroccan King Mohamed, who recently hosted a Summit of the Mano River Union (MRU) countries --Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry.
"Liberia wants ECOWAS to support the Rabat initiative.
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Liberia does not need a new peace initiative (by ECOWAS)," Taylor reportedly told the ECOWAS delegation.
Head of the ECOWAS delegation, Nigerian Colonel J A P Oladipo was said to have told Taylor the mission was able to observe the impact of the war and the humanitarian situation.
The mission visited the central Liberian town of Gbarnga, Foya in the north, Tubmanburg in the north-west, and Gbah in the west, which were all scenes of recent battles between government troops and LURD.
The ECOWAS team also visited camps for internally displaced persons where they talked to the residents.
Oladipo reportedly told Taylor the ECPOWAS mission would be "fair and factual" in its report to the sub-regional body about the situation on the ground.
The mission, with members also from Mali, Ghana, Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire, was expected to leave Monrovia Thursday, according to a Liberian Foreign Ministry official.
Taylor, a former warlord was elected President in 1997 after ECOWAS ended Liberia's seven-year civil war, which he had ignited in 1989.

13 june 2002 16:52:00




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