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Annan says Liberia's large defence budget portends ongoing turmoil

Annan says Liberia's large defence budget portends ongoing turmoil

Pointing out that Liberia has allocated half of its annual national budget to defence and security requirements, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says this is an indication that no relief is in sight for the ongoing conflict which has maimed, killed and displaced thousands in the country.

“The recent crisis in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, which already hosts a huge Liberian refugee population, is likely to complicate the security situation in the subregion,” the Secretary General notes in a report to the Security Council released today based on information provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Government of Liberia as well as the UN Mission in Sierra Leone on links between members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Liberian Government.

By a resolution adopted last year, the Council had requested Monrovia to expel all RUF members from Liberia, freeze funds that could be linked to RUF and cease all financial and military support for the group.

Urging the Council to remain engaged in helping Liberia and its people, Mr. Annan calls attention to the broader implications of stability in the country. “Peace in Liberia is vital not only for efforts to an end to the suffering of the Liberian people but also to help consolidate the important gains made in Sierra Leone within the wider framework of promoting sustainable peace and security in the subregion.”

He says solutions to Liberia’s multiple challenges could not be found through military means and welcomed the recent establishment of the International Contact Group on Liberia, the continuation of the Rabat process and the reaffirmation by the Security Council of its support for initiative ECOWAS as useful moves to finding an early solution to the country’s conflict.

The Secretary General also welcomes the Government’s indication that it is prepared to engage in dialogue with dissidents of the Liberians United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD) as long as they agree to stop fighting.