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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

LIBERIA: Security Council concerned about rights

ABIDJAN, 20 January 2003 (IRIN) - The UN Security Council has urged the government and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) to ensure free access for humanitarian aid workers to displaced civilians and refugees, saying it was concerned about human rights in Liberia.

In a 17 January press statement, the Council President Jean-Marc de La Sablière, said members regretted that Liberia had not responded to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposals for a revised mandate for the UN Office in Liberia and urged it to do so as soon as possible.

Council members, the statement said, called on the government and the LURD to bring the armed conflict to an end through dialogue and create the security conditions necessary for inclusive, peaceful and free legislative and presidential elections including a ceasefire. Members, it added, welcomed the outcome of the first meeting of the International Contact Group held in Dakar, Senegal, on 19 December 2002.

"The Council called on the government to create conditions for free, fair and transparent legislative and presidential elections, and allow international observers to monitor the electoral process." Liberians go to the polls on 14 October and the government has ruled out any foreign monitoring of the polls. Many of the opposition leaders live in exile and fear to return to take part in the elections.

"[The Council] called on Liberia to commit to building peace in the region, including through full compliance with relevant Council resolutions and full restoration and normalization of relations with its neighbours and the international community," the Council said.

The Liberian government and the LURD have fought since 1998, displacing thousands of people. The rebels want to topple President Charles Taylor who led a bloody war for seven years and eventually won elections in 1997. He has however led the country into serious economic difficulties, his opponents say.

Meanwhile, Taylor ruled out on Friday demands by some Liberians in exile and other pro-democracy groups for an international stabilisation force to create an enabling security environment for the elections.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Monrovia, Taylor said his government would "not allow any occupational force to come to here, like the ECOMOG style that would disrespect and disregard the authority of this legitimate government". Instead he said he had requested the United Nations to train about 5000 Liberian security personnel who would be responsible for elections security.

"This Government will not obstruct the holding of elections and will do every thing possible for the creation of a level playing field for all participating parties to have access to all parts of the country", Taylor said.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Governance


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