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Tighter Security Council sanctions against Liberia to take effect on Monday

Tighter Security Council sanctions against Liberia to take effect on Monday

Diamond sifting in West Africa
New sanctions against Liberia, set out in a Security Council resolution adopted two months ago, will automatically take effect next week because Monrovia has not demonstrated compliance with the Council's demands, the President of that body said today.

Ambassador James Cunningham of the United States made his statement following closed-door consultations on the Secretary-General's latest report on Liberia and a briefing by Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore, who chairs the Council's Liberia sanctions committee.

The President told reporters that Council members had concluded that the information available on steps taken by the Government of Liberia was "not sufficient for the Council to conclude that sanctions under resolution 1343 should be postponed."

That resolution demanded that Liberia immediately stop supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone and other armed groups in the region by expelling RUF members from Liberia and ending financial and military aid to the rebel army. It also stated that in the absence of compliance with the resolution's demands, additional sanctions would take effect on 7 May, including a ban on the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Liberia, and measures to prevent travel by senior members of the country's Government or their spouses.

Ambassador Cunningham noted that the sanctions were targeted to address the leadership of Liberia and not cause harm to the country's people. "They are designed to limit any impact on the humanitarian situation in the country, and in fact there was a great deal of expression of concern about the humanitarian situation in Liberia," he said.

"The sanctions are intended to encourage performance, and to achieve the goal of the resolution which is to have the Government of Liberia break its links with the RUF and to end its support for it, and the Council has no desire to impact the situation of the people of Liberia," the Council President said.

Council members also welcomed the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in pursuing peace and stability in the region, and commended the "strong cooperation" that exists between the UN, ECOWAS and the Security Council. "The Council will continue its dialogue with all States of the region -- all the governments and leaders -- including Liberia, and will keep this item under close consideration," Ambassador Cunningham said.