Monrovia (Fides Service) – Peace talks organised under the aegis of the 15 countries of the Economic and Development Community of West African Nations, open today at Akosombo, near Accra. But Charles Taylor has said there will be no peace in Liberia unless charges against him made by the United Nations Special Court for war crimes in Sierra Leone are withdrawn. Taylor is accused of supporting the Sierra Leone rebel group United Revolutionary Front in exchange for diamonds smuggled through Liberia. The UN Court has issued a warrant of arrest for Taylor charged with crimes against humanity and serious violation of international humanitarian law.
“At the moment there is a lull, after days of intense fighting involving several districts of the city” Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis of Monrovia tells Fides Service. Monrovia is the capital of Liberia torn by a civil war between troops loyal to president Taylor and rebels Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy LURD. “Everyone’s hopes are pinned on the meeting today in Ghana between representatives of the President and the rebels to negotiate a permanent cessation of hostilities”.
Fighting in the past few weeks has effected various parts of the country, particularly in the west, where people have fled en masse.
“The Church is helping thousands of displaced persons in search of safety, offering shelter in parishes and missions, says Archbishop Francis, but food to feed these people is becoming scarce”. It is estimated that in the capital alone there are more than 100,000 people in need of assistance.
Besides LURD, another movement MODEL, Movement for Democracy in Liberia has started, and this complicates matters.
To understand the situation Fides Service spoke with a missionary, who asked not to be named for security reasons. “President Taylor is paying for a policy of exporting war in neighbouring countries; for years in fact Taylor has supported rebels in Sierra Leone and he also tried to destabilise Guinea, which now supports Liberian guerrilla warfare.”
This tormented region of West Africa, will be the subject of a Dossier “The diamond roads” being prepared by Fides Service. LM (Fides Service 13/6/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)