Liberian rebels drop demands

Peacekeepers took firmer control of Liberia's capital Monrovia on Sunday as government officials and rebels negotiated in nearby Ghana the formation of an interim government.

    The conflict has left thousands homeless and hungry

    By the end of the day, the main rebel group under pressure from the mediators gave up its claim to the vice-presidency in a new government.


    "Ok fine, we leave it," Kabineh Ja'neh of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) said.


    The rebel-capitulation came after peace talks came close to collapsing with exasperated West African mediators threatening to call off the ongoing negotiations rather than give in to the rebel demands.


    Mediators from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had issued a deadline of Sunday noon and warned the talks would be put off until September if the rebels persisted with their demands.


    "Government portfolios should not be given on a silver platter as a reward for killing Liberian people"


    Liberia's Information Minister  Reginald Goodridge

    Liberia's Information Minister Reginald Goodridge agreed with the mediators and insisted "government portfolios should not be given on a silver platter as a reward for killing Liberian people."


    The rebels gave in, but did not seem to be overtly pleased.


    "We want it to be opened to everybody who can then vie for the position," he added.


    But the rebels agreed to give aid workers wider access to all areas in the war-ravaged country and promised to guarantee their safety.


    "Liberia is getting quieter by the day," Colonel Theophilus Tawiah, a Ghanian peacekeeper said.


    Made shelterless by the recent fightings, thousands of hungry Liberians are in desperate need of food, medicines and other essentials.


    Aid workers had been predicting a human catastrophe unless aid could be delivered to them without further delay.


    A long drawn civil war spread over the last 14 years has wrecked Liberia and reduced its population to penury.


    Hopes for the battered country's revival were finally rekindled last week when President Charles Taylor stepped down from power and went into exile in neighbouring Nigeria.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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