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Sekou Dammateh Conneh Centre


JUSTICE - FREEDOM - UNITY - RECONCILIATION
PEACE - DEMOCRACY


Flag of LiberiaSekou Damate Conneh

INTERNATIONAL NEWS


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=== MONROVIA 31 July 2003: (Source: CNN and others)

ACCRA, Ghana 4 p.m. GMT -- West African Troops Expected In Liberia Monday, Taylor Out By Thursday. West African leaders have announced that a first contingent of regional peacekeepers is expected in Liberia by Monday, opening the way for the departure of beleaguered President Charles Taylor who has already agreed to step down. Nigeria has committed two battalions, with additional troops expected from Ghana, Mali, Benin, Senegal and Togo.

West African leaders have been holding an emergency summit to discuss how to pay for a peacekeeping mission to Liberia. Ghanaian President John Kufor said a peacekeeping force was ready to move but added that members of the Economic Community of West African States must pledge to help pay for the mission. Kufor said the United States has committed $10 million to support the peacekeeping force, and Nigeria has offered to send two battalions of troops -- about 1,500 men. But military officials estimate the cost of keeping those troops in Liberia for six months would top $100 million. The West African leaders'summit in Ghana today was to review plans for a long-awaited peacekeeping mission to Liberia. The 15-strong Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) discussed the "deployment of forces and how to facilitate the peace process", said Ghana's President, John Kufuor.


=== USA 30 July 2003: (Source: State Department & The White House)

In New York, the United States introduced a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to authorise a peacekeeping force, preparing for any future U.S. and U.N. deployment in Liberia. In Washington Secretary Colin Powell said: "But we have always said from the beginning that it can't just be U.S. support, the U.S. has to support ECOWAS. ECOWAS is in the lead. It is ECOWAS itself that said it should be in the lead, and it asked for U.S. support. Whether there will also be a need for U.S. boots on the ground, so to speak, that remains to be seen and it is a decision that will be made in due course by the President. - It is also predicated on the departure of Charles Taylor. Charles Taylor's departure is an essential part of the strategy that we have worked out with the United Nations and with ECOWAS to resolve this situation. - Until Charles Taylor departs, the strategy that we have worked out is, upon departure of Charles Taylor, we would expect ECOWAS forces to be present. Whether it is the same day, a day before, a day after, that is a synchronization issue that is, frankly, a detail, but an important detail. But we are looking for a permissive environment that will be created by the departure of Mr. Taylor. He has said he will depart upon the arrival of peacekeeping forces, and we expect him to meet that commitment."


=== MONROVIA 30 July 2003: (source: various on the Internet)

"President Charles Taylor is reconsidering his pledge to resign, seeing it as encouraging rebel attacks such as the recent push that seized Buchanan, the nation's second-largest city, his spokesman said yesterday. "We are of a different opinion now in the government about the validity of the overtures of the president to step down," spokesman Vaanii Paasawe said in the capital, Monrovia. Taylor has said since early June he would yield power, as the Bush administration has demanded."

"Taylor held a state funeral for his beloved mother, who died of natural causes, complete with a military band and gospel choir."
"The last time Nigerian peacekeepers did a tour of duty in Liberia, in the mid-'90s, they were notorious for their looting and pillaging."


=== MONROVIA 26 July 2003: (source: Africaonline.com forum Liberia)

Today, things are pretty quiet in Monrovia unlike previous days. Since morning, I heard only one mortar shell dropped around I think somewhere in central Monrovia. But things are kind of quiet here today. Let us all pray that God will redeem our country from the throes of wicked men and restore our dignity as a nation. As you all know, today is Independence Day and all Liberians are supposed to be making merry and celebrating. But because of the situation here, this can't be possible. I want those of you over there in the states to conscienciously observe this day in solidarity with your brothers and sisters here who are suffering and dying. Let's somberly reflect on why things are going the way they are going. Let's use this day to pray and ask God to save this nation. I remember growing up as a little boy and wearing new clothes on 26 day and going to the movie theatre and visiting friends and family members and all that merry making stuff. But today, there's nothing to reminisce about. Can you imagine amidst all of this, Taylor is having a big rally today at the SKD sports complex. There is a Rev. Paul from somewhere I thing in TEXAS who is here in Monrovia making fool of the Liberian people praying for Taylor. I feel for the thousands upon thousands of people who are displaced at the Complex because Taylor and his ubiquitous security detail will intimidate them all day there today.


MONROVIA 25 July 2003: BREAKING NEWS

=== WASHINGTON DC -- Sources around President George W Bush told CNN today that the President instructed the Pentagon this morning to deploy a sufficient number of troops in Liberia. BBC published later today; "US President George W Bush has ordered American warships to deploy off the coast of Liberia to support a peacekeeping mission in the war-torn country. Mr Bush said the US mission would be limited - in numbers, time and scope - while United Nations-backed forces assumed "the responsibility for peacekeeping".


MONROVIA 24 July 2003:

=== MONROVIA, Liberia -- Fighting between LURD and government troops centered on Monrovia's port during the sixth day of fighting as deployment of West African peacekeepers appeared closer. Guns and grenades were used overnight but by daylight Thursday fighting was lighter, allowing residents to leave their homes in search of food. Supplies of safe drinking water have run out in most parts of Monrovia, increasing fears that cholera and other illnesses could spread rapidly. Fraternite Matin in the Ivory Coast is also no fan of President Taylor. "Taylor wants to stay to the bitter end. In spite of the war which is raging in Monrovia. In spite of the hospitality offered him by Obasanjo," it says. "The old warrior is clinging on, leaving behind him a field of ruins," the paper says, adding that the consequences for the Liberian economy and people matter little to him: President Taylor wants to "cling on to power at any cost".


MONROVIA 23 July 2003 (source CNN):

=== LURD liberation fighting to overthrow President Charles Taylor have breached a key defensive line, advancing down a road that would allow them to encircle the embattled capital. LURD crossed the Stockton Creek bridge on a road that leads from the LURD-held port and around the city center towards the junction to the main airport and Taylor's residence. The Press Secretary to Liberia's President Charles Taylor told allAfrica.com, Wednesday, that Taylor wants a firm commitment to "a constitutional transition" before stepping aside. Taylor was still willing to step down "if that will lead to peace," said Sylvester Vaani Passawe; "the question is what happens to the democratic mandate of the Liberian people." Passawe, who said he was talking to allAfrica "with President Taylor's voice," called the conflict in Liberia, "a proxy war." Claiming to have "direct evidence," he accused the United States of backing the Liberian rebels. Pressed on the point, Passawe said aid money given to neighboring Guinea by the United States was being used by Lurd rebels to lease armaments with U.S. knowledge.


ACCRA/Ghana 22 July 2003

=== Both liberation groups active in Liberia said on Tuesday they would refuse to sign a draft peace agreement unless changes were made that would allow them to play a bigger role in the proposed transitional government that would organise fresh elections.


Monrovia: 19 July 2003.

=== Advancing LURD freedom fighters punched to within a few miles of the center of the capital on Saturday 19th of July 2003, raining down a barrage of mortar bombs. Witnesses said at least two mortar rounds landed in the city center, after freedom fighters firing machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades seized St Paul's bridge on the edge of Monrovia and headed into the coastal city's northern districts. West Africa's military powerhouse Nigeria said on Saturday a team of military officers was heading to Liberia to assess the terrain in readiness for deploying a larger intervention force. Residents said the LURD freedom fighters were advancing past Liberia's port area, placing them just a few miles from the center of the capital.

Taylor's forces set up new defenses on another bridge at the gates of the city, while thousands of people swarmed toward the Mamba Point diplomatic quarter hoping it would be safe. Many of Taylor's troops said they did not want to risk their lives for a man who has already said he will leave Liberia for asylum in Nigeria once peacekeepers arrive and whose forces control barely a third of the West African country.

"What are we fighting for? The man we are trying to defend has decided to go. So why should we fight to die?" said one, Commander Klon. Demonstrations sprung up around the city. People waving leaves as a symbol of peace chanted, "we told you to go to school, but you are still holding guns" at the fighters. Police fired in the air to clear thousands of people who surged out to demonstrate after a false rumor that West African peacekeeping troops had arrived at the port.

Freedom fighters of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) advancing on the capital seized the key Po River Bridge, 12 km from Monrovia's outskirts, on Friday. Washington said it was deeply concerned over the latest developments, saying the only way forward was through a peace process underway in Ghana. Taylor has been indicted for war crimes he is accused of committing in Sierra Leone. Only after Taylor leaves has the United States said it might send a small force to help restore stability to Liberia.


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