Security Council members urge Liberian government, rebels to end conflict
In a statement to the press by the current Council President, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, the 15-nation body called on the Government and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebels "to work to bring the armed conflict to an end through dialogue and to create the security conditions necessary for inclusive, peaceful and free legislative and presidential elections, including a ceasefire to guarantee safety for all."
The statement also welcomed the outcome of a meeting on 19 December of the International Contact Group as a positive step in this direction.
Ambassador de La Sablière said the members expressed their regret at the Government's lack of response to the proposals by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a revised mandate for the UN Office in Liberia (UNOL), including an extension until 31 December 2003 and steps to increase the Office's capacity for objective reporting.
Expressing concern over human rights violations in the country, Council members also sought free access for aid workers to displaced civilians and refugees, as well as permission for international observers to monitor elections there, Ambassador de La Sablière said.
The statement concluded with an appeal to the Government of Liberia to "commit to building peace in the region" by complying with Security Council resolutions and normalizing its relations with neighbouring countries and the international community at large.
Earlier Friday, the Council heard a briefing by Youssef Mahmoud, Director of the Africa Division of the UN Department of Political Affairs on the situation in Liberia.