United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today demanded that a ceasefire be respected in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, which has come under lethal fire from rebels over the past week, and said one of the main insurgent groups was disqualifying itself from any leadership role in the future of the country.
“The Secretary-General is outraged at the continued high incidence of civilian casualties in and around Monrovia, as the result of indiscriminate shelling,” a UN spokesman said in a statement in New York.
“He joins others in demanding that all concerned respect the ceasefire agreed to in Accra (Ghana),” the statement added. “It is imperative that the siege of Monrovia be lifted, so that desperately needed humanitarian relief can be brought in, peacekeepers can be quickly deployed and President Charles Taylor can depart.”
Mr. Taylor has promised to step down once a West African peace force lands in the country.
“The Secretary-General reminds those who continue to wage war in Liberia and to use means that cause so much suffering to the civilian population that they will be held individually accountable for any war crimes they commit,” the statement concluded. “By their reckless and criminal behaviour, they are disqualifying themselves from any leadership role in the future of their country.”
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Annan specifically named the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) group as having disqualified itself from a future leadership role. “I cannot see how they would expect the people to accept them, after the suffering they’ve put them through. So they should think about that,” he said.
Mr. Annan, who on Friday expressed pleasure at an announcement by the United States that it would position “appropriate military capabilities” off the coast of Liberia in order to support the deployment of peacekeepers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to that country, said today he was happy that US ships were headed there. “I expect the US troops will have an important role to play,” he added.
Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in an update assessment of conditions in Liberia, said over the weekend that people were getting hungrier and hungrier every day and that there was much less for sale on the markets.