LIBERIA: PRESIDENT CHARLES TAYLOR PRESS CONFERENCE

LIBERIA: PRESIDENT CHARLES TAYLOR PRESS CONFERENCE

LIBERIA: PRESIDENT CHARLES TAYLOR PRESS CONFERENCE


English/Nat
NOTE – TOKO MATERIAL

Liberian President Charles Taylor, a close ally of the rebel forces in Sierra Leone, has said peace in the region cannot be forced but must be agreed to by all parties.

He also said it was imperative that United Nations personnel still in rebel hands be released.

Taylor made the comments on his return from Mali, where he attended a summit of Ecowas – the Economic Community of West African States.

Liberian President Charles Taylor spoke to reporters in Monrovia after his return from Mali, where he attended a summit of the Economic Community of West African States and briefed the president of Mali on the situation in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leonean rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (R-U-F) seized about 500 peacekeepers earlier this month and are believed to be still holding about 270, although exact figures aren’t available.

A group of 80 peacekeepers freed on Wednesday were waiting to be evacuated by helicopter from the remote Liberian border town of Foya.

Taylor said so far 139 had been released, 13 of them on Thursday.

He said some 40 of those released were injured and would be arriving shortly in Monrovia for treatment before repatriation.

The negotiations for the release have been led by Taylor, the rebels’ closest ally in the region.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“All United Nations personnel must be released. We will continue to urge them, we will continue to have them (Revolutionary United Front – rebels in Sierra Leone) understand that it is not in anybody’s best interests to hold United Nations personnel and we want to thank them for release those. They were looking forward to more releases.”
SUPER CAPTION: Charles Taylor, Liberian President

Taylor also said on Thursday he believes West African nations should be at the forefront of resolving the crisis in Sierra Leone.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“Disarmament is not a forceful process, it is a process of confidence. So I have heard some individuals talking about peace enforcement. How do you enforce peace? I think peacekeeping is proper, we have to convince the parties that it is not to their detriment.”
SUPER CAPTION: Charles Taylor, Liberian President

The West African force, ECOMOG, dominated and commanded by the Nigerians, has only recently handed over its peacekeeping role to the United Nations.

Until last year, Nigeria had more than 10-thousand soldiers in Sierra Leone.

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