TOPICS > Politics

Rebels Ask for New Liberian Leader to Step Down

BY Admin  October 24, 2003 at 3:15 PM EST

The rebel leader of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) has accused Gyude Bryant, the newly appointed Liberian government leader, of violating a peace agreement by rejecting rebel nominations for government positions.

“When we’re not fully represented and not allowed to take our offices, we will pull out of the government and go back to revisit the accord,” rebel leader Sekou Conneh said.

“We want Gyude Bryant to step down. If he does not step down, there won’t be U.N. deployment to LURD areas and we won’t disarm,” the rebel leader told Reuters.

LURD and the country’s other major rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, signed a peace agreement Aug. 18, days after the former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, went into exile.

The agreement gave Taylor loyalists and the two rebel factions five ministries each in Bryant’s government and key positions in the administration. Each side was to submit their nominees, and then they would be confirmed or rejected by parliament, Reuters reported.

A statement published Thursday said Bryant rejected three LURD nominees for the jobs of deputy head of central bank, chief of staff of the new national army and head of the government’s customs and excise department. Those positions, according to the statement, were not positions mentioned in the peace accord.

A disagreement occurred when rebel official Charles Bennie went to the Finance Ministry on Thursday to begin what he thought was his new position as commissioner of customs and excise. Eventually, peacekeepers persuaded Bennie to leave.

Recent events have caused Conneh to request a new round of talks to “revisit” some of the terms of the peace accord.

Tensions continued to rise as LURD fighters turned away a UNICEF aid convoy heading out of the capital, Monrovia, on Friday, Reuters reported.