LIBERIA: INTERNATIONAL CONTACT GROUP URGES GOVERNMENT AND
REBELS TO HOLD CEASEFIRE TALKS
From: UN New York, Mar 1, 2003 1:00PM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
countries concerned about the situation in Liberia have issued a
statement urging ceasefire talks between the country's Government and
the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
Voicing "serious concern" about the conflict following a meeting in New
York on Friday, the International Contact Group on Liberia reaffirmed
the need for a comprehensive approach to the crisis and outlined
specific steps which could garner global backing.
"The Group urges the Government of Liberia and LURD to enter immediately
and without preconditions into negotiations on a ceasefire, as they have
both committed to do," said a press statement which urged both parties
to accept Mali as mediator on behalf of the Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS).
The Group also agreed to call on the Security Council to consider
authorizing a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire.
While stressing the importance of free and fair elections in Liberia,
the Group concluded that the conditions for that -- including a
ceasefire, security, a process of national reconciliation, electoral
reform and respect for human rights -- did not exist. The Liberian
Government was urged "to act rapidly to create such conditions before
elections are held."
Towards that end, the Group agreed to request United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consider sending a needs assessment team
to Liberia, and urged the Government to cooperate with it.
The Group, which will meet again in two months' time, also agreed to
maintain contact in Monrovia to facilitate its work.
Representatives of Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom,
the United States, the African Union, the European Union, the ECOWAS
Secretariat and the UN attended Friday's meeting, which was co-chaired
by Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, and the
Special Representative of the Presidency of the E Mano River Union
countries, Hans Dahlgren.