West African call on Taylor for political end to Liberian war




Mark Huband in Banjul

The Guardian, 31 August 1991

DRASTIC measures to overcome the political stalemate in Liberia, including the replacement of the entire interim government of Amos Sawyer by non-partisan ministers, may be tried to draw the rebel leader Charles Taylor into the peace process.

These measures, to be discussed at a meeting of the Liberian factions and five West African presidents scheduled for today in the Ivory Coast, marks a further compromise by those opposed to Mr Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the main warring faction.

A year after the first such meetings, Mr Taylor has refused to meet any of the demands made of him with a view to ending the war which began in December 1989.

The Ivory Coast meeting, which may be delayed for up to a week, will be the third under the chairmanship of the Ivory Coast President, Felix Houphouet-Boïgny.

The NPFL used the Ivory Coast as its main conduit for supplies during the war, and Mr Houphouet-Boïgny’s influence over Mr Taylor is regarded as the final political lever available to the negotiators.

The Gambian President, Sir Dawda Jawara, made clear yesterday that he doubts Mr Taylor’s commitment to the peace process and the role of the West African peace-keeping force which was sent to Liberia a year ago. The force is supposed to have taken control of frontier posts and strategic points, but has been denied a presence throughout Mr Taylor’s territory, which covers up to 90 per cent of Liberia.

Costs are forcing those countries with troops in Liberia to seek a political solution.


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