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Liberian Rebels Will Not Sign Truce Until President Resigns
VOA News
14 Jun 2003, 13:41 UTC

Rebels in Liberia say they will not sign a truce until President Charles Taylor resigns. The rebels made the announcement Saturday, at peace talks in Ghana's lakeside resort of Akosombo.

Mediators at the talks had earlier expressed optimism the two sides would sign a ceasefire accord Saturday. A top mediator, Mohamad Ibn Chambas, told VOA the parties had agreed in principle to the conditions of the cease-fire.

Rebels fighting to overthrow the government of Mr. Taylor have advanced in the last week to within a few kilometers of the capital, Monrovia. Liberian officials say as many as 400 people have been killed in the recent fighting. More than 100,000 others have been displaced. Mr. Taylor, who is a former rebel leader himself, said at the opening of the peace talks last week that he would step down if he is seen as an obstacle to peace in Liberia. But several days later he ruled out any deal that would drive him out of power. He said if he is pushed out, the situation in Liberia will get worse.

Observers say Mr. Taylor is unlikely to step down after the U.N. backed Special Court for neighboring Sierra Leone last week issued an indictment against him. The court accuses him of sponsoring rebel groups that committed atrocities during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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