Liberia: ECOWAS parliamentarians urge president to accept peace plan

News and Press Release
Originally published
MONROVIA, 13 March (IRIN) - Parliamentarians from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have urged Liberian President Charles Taylor to accept recommendations made by the International Contact Group on Liberia with a view to ending the fighting between government fighters and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
The International Contact Group on Liberia comprises representatives of Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, the African Union, the European Union, the ECOWAS Secretariat and the United Nations. At a meeting on 28 February 2003 at the UN in New York, it recommended that the government of Liberia and LURD "enter immediately and without preconditions into negotiations on a ceasefire" and accept Mali as mediator on behalf of ECOWAS. It agreed to call on the UN Security Council to consider authorising a ceasefire monitoring mechanism.

The contact group also urged Liberia's government to quickly create conditions for free and fair elections, including the ceasefire, security, a process of national reconciliation, electoral reform and respect for human rights.

The five-member delegation from the ECOWAS parliament, throught its Speaker Aliuon Nouhoum Diallo of Mali, informed Taylor on Tuesday in Monrovia that the outcome of the contact group meeting was the best framework for ending the war in Liberia.

Taylor said in response that the issue of restoring peace in Liberia was a matter for ECOWAS and that the International Contact Group must work along with ECOWAS. He confirmed that he would attend the peace conference scheduled for Bamako, Mali, which he said was not just between LURD and his government, but a reconciliatory one that would be attended by all stakeholders, including all political and civil leaders.

"If this war was between the terrorists [LURD] and this government, it would have ended, but this is not so, there are big and powerful countries behind the war and we are working on that," he said. He added that the "war will end only if [Guinean] President [Lansana] Conteh and I can sit and discuss" because, he charged, LURD was using Guinean territory to attack Liberia.

The ECOWAS parliamentary group has been on a peace mission to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in connection with efforts to help resolve the Liberian conflict.

The group brokered a deal with LURD rebels in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in February in which the rebels agreed to dialogue with Taylor and dropped earlier demands for his resignation as a condition for a ceasefire.


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