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Annan appeals to Security Cl to move on Liberia

Annan appeals to Security Council for speedy action on Liberian peace force

Saying he is deeply concerned at the “dramatic deterioration” of the situation in Liberia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the Security Council to send a multinational peacekeeping force to the war-torn West African country as quickly as possible and to give it a robust mandate to ensure it is a credible deterrent.

The situation in Liberia, where several rebel groups are battling the government, and the capital Monrovia has come under lethal shelling almost daily for the past two weeks, had overtaken the scheduled mid-August deployment of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “vanguard force,” Mr. Annan said in a letter to the 15-member body, dated 29 July.

“It is therefore absolutely essential to accelerate the deployment of the ECOWAS vanguard force to Monrovia to pave the way for the early deployment of the multinational force,” he wrote, adding that Nigeria was willing to begin deploying its two battalions to Liberia immediately, provided the international community made available the necessary logistical support.

Noting that the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) was ready to transport the Nigerian battalion now there to Liberia and that it was up to the Security Council to authorize the mission to provide full logistical support for the ECOWAS vanguard force, he said: “I therefore appeal to the Council to give this matter urgent consideration.”

The ECOWAS force would be the first in a three-phase deployment of troops, to be followed by a full multinational force, and then, “within the shortest possible time”, by a UN peacekeeping operation that would, among other things, oversee the holding of free and fair elections.

“It will be important for the Security Council to take an early decision on the establishment of the envisaged United Nations mission, in order to facilitate the timely generation of the military personnel required for this phase,” Mr. Annan wrote. “It would also be essential for the Security Council to authorize a robust mandate for the envisaged United Nations peacekeeping force, in order to ensure that it has a credible deterrence capability.”

Apart from preparing for elections, the UN force would assist an interim government in disarming and demobilizing the armed groups, provide security at vital locations and government buildings, including at major seaports and airports, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and protect civilians facing violence in areas of its immediate deployment.

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