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Annan welcomes Taylor's decision to step down

Liberia: Annan welcomes Taylor's decision to step down in the name of peace

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed President Charles Taylor's decision to resign from office and leave Liberia in the interest of peace, and has called on the Liberian people to build on this momentum and work together in the spirit of national reconciliation to help restore a lasting democracy to their country.

A statement issued by a UN spokesman in New York said the Secretary-General saw this development as a significant turning point as Liberia strives to move from war to peace.

"He recalls that the President's decision is consistent with the undertaking he announced on 4 June 2003 in Accra at the opening of the [Economic Community of West African States] ECOWAS-sponsored peace talks on Liberia," the statement said.

"As a first step to that end," [establishing lasting democracy] "the Secretary-General encourages the Liberian stakeholders to elaborate an inclusive and orderly transitional arrangement as envisaged in the 17 June ceasefire agreement," it added.

With the people of Liberia about to embark on turning a new page towards a more peaceful future, the Secretary-General strongly believes that concrete and immediate steps should be taken to end the widespread suffering and oppression which warlords, militia forces and other armed groups have for far too long inflicted on Liberian society, the statement said.

"The Secretary-General reminds all concerned that they would be held individually and collectively accountable for the perpetration of gross human rights violations and war crimes," it says.

The Secretary-General reaffirmed the commitment of the UN to continue to work with ECOWAS and other international partners, to support the early restoration of sustainable peace and stability to Liberia, including through the deployment of a multinational stabilization force.

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