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SLUG: 2-306020 Liberia / Fighting (L)








INTRO: While fighting continues to rage in Liberia, in spite of ceasefire promises by the rebels, efforts to bring a resolution to the country's civil war are slowly gathering momentum. Sarah Simpson reports from the V-O-A West Africa bureau in Abidjan.

TEXT: African leaders are meeting in Ghana to discuss the deployment of peacekeeping forces to battered Liberia. They are working on the details of deploying a force, which could start with 15-hundred Nigerian troops.

A 10-member military planning team arrived in Monrovia late Wednesday to work on logistics for the force. The team from the United States, Britain and five African nations is expected to spend two days in the capital, to determine how the government fighters and rebel factions can be kept apart.

Meanwhile, the United States has introduced a draft U-N resolution to enable the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Liberia.

In a telephone interview with V-O-A late Wednesday, rebel spokesman General Joe Wylie of the group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy said the crisis in Liberia will not be resolved until President Taylor not only leaves office but leaves the country entirely.


We want Taylor out and we are serious about it. As long as he remains in the picture as a negative factor the conflict is not going to go away. We do have information that Taylor does not intend to leave Liberia. He might step down but he will stay in the country and not go out and it will inflame the situation. We want Taylor out, ECOWAS wants Taylor out, the tribunal in Sierra leone wants Taylor out, President George W. Bush wants Taylor out - why is he still in Liberia? This is the question!

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President Taylor has promised to leave Liberia, but not until peacekeeping forces arrive. Nigeria has offered Mr. Taylor asylum.

But there is nowhere to run for many Liberians. Rebel and government forces continue to exchange gunfire in spite of several promised ceasefires. The thousands of civilians taking refuge in the city are struggling to find food and water.

Humanitarian organizations are warning of an impending disaster. Most aid workers left the country as the security situation deteriorated and will only return once peacekeepers are in place. (SIGNED)


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