Global Policy Forum

Liberia Seeks UN Peacekeepers

People's Daily
March 28, 2001

Liberia has renewed demands that U.N. peacekeepers be sent to the West African country to verify that it was not supplying Sierra Leone's rebels with guns in exchange for illicit diamonds, U.N. officials said here Tuesday.

But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, responding to an earlier U.N. Security Council request, named a panel of experts to investigate and monitor Liberia's compliance with a March 7 council resolution banning Liberia's diamond exports unless it fulfilled a host of demands. Under the resolution, sanctions against the diamond exports and a travel ban on Liberian President Charles Taylor and his associates would go into force on May 7 unless the country cut all ties with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.

Taylor wrote Annan in a letter, which was circulated here Monday, saying that Liberia "will do all that is possible to ensure that the concerns of the Security Council are adequately addressed." The Liberian president said that his country had expelled RUF members accused of fomenting Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war, closed its border with Sierra Leone and imposed a four-month ban on rough diamond exports, including those from Liberia's own mines. Taylor argued that the United Nations should send a unit from the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone to Liberia's main airport and other ports of entry and be deployed along its border with Sierra Leone.

The U.N. chief appointed Martin Chungong Ayafor of Cameroon, who had chaired an earlier panel of experts that dealt with violations of the sanctions in Sierra Leone, to head the Liberia panel of experts, he said. Annan also appointed Atabou Bodian of Senegal, an expert from the International Civil Aviation Organization, Johan Pelemam, an expert on arms and transportation from Belgium, Harjit Singh Sandhu of India, an expert from the International Criminal Police Commission (Interpol), and Alex Vines, a diamond expert from the United Kingdom, he said.

The U.N. Security Council imposed the sanctions on Liberia earlier this month on the ground that Monrovia has bought diamonds mined illegally by Sierra Leonean rebels in exchange for arms and the 15-nation body has given the Liberian Government until May to prove it has stopped or face sanctions on its own diamond sales and travel by officials. Liberia earlier this month halted diamond exports for three months to give it time to put its own certification system in place. Sierra Leone introduced a certification system last October to make it easier for the international community to enforce a ban on the so-called "conflict diamonds" sold to fund rebels' fighting.

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


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