Liberians plead for US intervention

Cries for US intervention in Liberia’s war increased on Saturday as many driven from their homes due to fighting marched to the US embassy demanding help.

    US president Bush has called on
    Liberia's president Taylor to resign

    Fighting this past week has seen at least 300 killed, while thousands have been displaced in and around the capital city of Monrovia.

    Former rebel fighter and current President of Liberia, Charles Taylor is under increasing pressure to resign.

    Two rebel groups control 60 percent of the country, an international court in Sierra Leone has found him guilty of war crimes, and US President George W Bush is urging him to step down.

    But many Liberians want the Bush administration to do more.

    Scores of people marched to the US embassy for a third day of pleas and chanting “We want peace, no more war.”

    More Liberians are turning to the US for assistance as the seemingly never-ending civil war claims more victims. However, there are also historical links between Liberia and the US since it was freed Liberian slaves that founded the West African country – as a haven for liberty.

    "Do they want all of us to die? They are the people we look up to. We think the Americans must help us," said Rita Younger as she headed for the US embassy.

    Taylor asked for American assistance on Friday, despite Bush's demand a day earlier that he should step down to end the bloodshed that has also spread to all Liberia's neighbours – Sierra Leone, Coté d’Ivoire and Guinea.

    Government fighters continued
    searching for rebels after the
    ceasefire call

    The UK has also said it would like to see the United States lead a multinational force into Liberia, but officials in Washington have so far ruled out sending peacekeepers.

    There is speculation among African diplomats that Nigeria may send soldiers to the besieged nation. Nigeria sent forces during the civil war in the 1990s, but they failed to prevent some of the bloodiest massacres of a war that left at least 200,000 dead.

    Some Liberians believe it is only the Americans who could improve their plight.

    "George Bush is the president of the whole world and everyone knows that," said Martin Luther Wesseh, demonstrating outside the US mission. "America owns Liberia. That is a fact. We learned it in school."

    Rebel leaders ordered a ceasefire on Friday. Taylor’s commanders said they would honour the ceasefire, but Liberian forces continued searching for rebels in Monrovia cut off from the retreat.

    People emerged from other towns and villages to survey the damage and salvage what they  could.

    Meanwhile negotiations in Ghana were adjourned for a week on Friday even though both sides committed themselves to talks after a ceasefire, which subsequently failed.


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