TOPICS > Politics

Warring Factions in Liberia Sign Peace Accord

BY Admin  August 18, 2003 at 6:15 PM EST

Retired Nigerian Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, chief mediator for the talks, said, ”I want to believe that with the signing of this agreement today, Liberia will never be plunged into another spiral of violence in the quest for political power, or under the false pretense of liberating the people.”

“Liberians do not need liberators anymore. Liberians need developers and nation-builders,” he said.

LURD had earlier demanded its representative hold the vice chairmanship in the interim government, but West African mediators threatened to suspend negotiations for a month unless the rebel group dropped its demand. The rebels conceded on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

“We want to prove to the entire world that this whole thing is not about LURD wanting power,” said George Dweh, a leader of the rebels.

The terms of the accord call for all three groups to waive claim to top posts in the interim government, the AP reported.

A government is expected to take over for the newly appointed President Moses Blah in October. Until elections are held in two years, the new government will run Liberia.

While negotiations were underway in Ghana, shops opened in Monrovia for the first time in a month. People poured onto the streets, searching for food and work.

“Today is better than yesterday, the gunmen are going away — it’s coming on, gradually,” said Johnson Saryee, an unemployed truck driver, told the Associated Press.

Though food markets were opened Monday, many people didn’t have any money after selling their belongings to buy food during the attacks.

“I want to go and beg for food,” Ethel Weah, a 32-year-old woman wandering the outskirts of Monrovia, told the AP. “There’s food in town, but I can’t buy it — no money.”

In Monrovia, Ghana Col. Theophilus Tawiah, chief of staff of the peacekeeping mission, said foreign troops were on the Po River outside of the capital and were moving armed rebels from the city’s center.

“Things are improving everyday,” Tawiah said. “It’s much better than it was.”

Despite the progress, residents say the nights are still filled with gunfire. Both sides have AK-47s, grenades and rocket-launchers, though most of the armed rebels have gone.

Another setback came when an aid ship carrying $86,000 worth of generators, fuel cans and other non-food supplies for Liberia sank in a storm off the coast of Sierra Leone on Saturday night.

World Vision spokesman Dan Kelly said 22 people were on board, though nobody was injured.

“They had quite a swim. They were wearing their life preservers, and they swam ashore,” Kelly said.

The shipment coming from World Vision, a Christian humanitarian group based in Federal Way, Wash., was one of the first for Liberia.

Rich Moseanko, field officer for World Vision, called the sinking a “momentary setback.”

The agency will airlift new supplies in a few days from its warehouses in Italy, Moseanko said.