Global Policy Forum

Liberia Claims Sanctions Victory

February 6, 2001

Citing a "brilliant counter-argument" by its Foreign Minister, Liberia says the UN Security Council will not, as speculated, impose sanction on the country for its involvement in Sierra Leone's now over a decade old war which has left hundreds of people, including children, with hacked limbs.

A Taylor-owned newspaper in Monrovia announced Monday that Washington is shifting its position following "revelations" by Liberia's Foreign Minister Monie Captan. It said:

"As a result of this latest stance, the Americans are said to be showing signs of shifting from their previous position, with acting United States Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador James Cunningham, saying that America will hereafter begin to carefully study Liberia's announcements based on recent declarations by ECOWAS, acknowledging Liberia's role in the sierra Leonean conflict based on a request from the sub-regional body".

In an information leaked to a series of its papers, the Government said Russia, France, and China, permanent members of the Security Council, "are said to oppose sanctions against Liberia advocated by the United States and Britain.

"However, sources explained that following a brilliant counter- argument during the country's representation at the United Nations by Foreign Minister Monie Ralph Captan, Mali and Ukraine, also members of the council, are said to be having second thoughts regarding the imposition of sanctions against Liberia", the paper said.

One Government-owned newspaper said, "Sources hinted to this paper last weekend that France is against calls for sanctions, while Mali, another member of the council, is expressing reservations about the sanctions on grounds that the Americans and British have not presented 'hard facts' to warrant any such action against a country coming out of the ruins of a civil conflict".

It added that, "While America and Britain are lobbying to have the sanctions imposed on Liberia for its alleged complicity in fueling the conflict in sierra Leone, France says it views calls for punitive actions against Liberia as 'negative."

It said, "the French Ambassador accredited near Monrovia informed journalists last weekend at the Executive Mansion, following closed door deliberations with President Charles Taylor, that his country is not requesting a punitive approach to the issue, but rather an "incentive" approach to the matter".

This latest move by France is seen by political observers as likely having the impact on any concluding decision against Liberia when the Council resumes its hearings February 12th in New York, into recommendations by a UN Panel of Experts calling for Sanctions imposition against Liberia, something which the Liberian leader has described as mere lies and fabrications concocted by some individuals to bring additional suffering to the Liberian people.

According to the Government press, Taylor is also backed by West African leaders whose countries were named in the UN Panel of Experts report. "The recent stance by ECOWAS in contending that if recent measures being contemplated by the council are effected against Liberia, they would have an adverse effect on the entire sub-region, stressing that it will also be necessary for the Sub-regional body to put forward some points regarding the country's engagement with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF)."

It added that "Malian Foreign Minister Modibo Sibibe, who recently delivered a special message to the Liberian leader from ECOWAS Chairman, President Alpha Konare, told journalists in Monrovia that ECOWAS is concerned about the threat of sanctions against Liberia". The paper said the Malian Foreign Minister has assured Taylor that "the United Nations cannot go ahead with such measures as ECOWAS has some points to put forward to the council regarding Liberia's association with the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, which was done with the acknowledgement of the sub-regional body to ensure that peace and sanity returns to the more than a decade of civil war plaguing that neighboring state".

Meanwhile, an opposition group, the New Deal, which has publicly indicated its approval of sanctions, has been dragged before the Government-controlled electoral commission and threatened. The Commission said the group is "unpatriotic."

More Information on Diamonds in Conflict
More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia
More Information on Sanctions


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