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UN Commends Peaceful Run-Off Elections In Liberia

UN Security Council Commends All Parties For Peaceful Run-Off Elections In Liberia

The United Nations Security Council today commended Liberians for their commitment to peace during the recent run-off presidential elections and, citing the threat posed by the potential repatriation of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, called for UN peacekeepers to arrest him if he returned to the country.

After Assistant Secretary-General Hédi Annabi of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) briefed Council members on the second round of presidential elections held on Tuesday, the Council President for November, Ambassador Andrey Denisov of the Russian Federation, told journalists: "Members of the Security Council welcomed the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections and commended all Liberians attending the polls."

The members of the Security Council underlined that the completion of free and fair presidential elections will be "a key step forward toward restoring the normal state functions of Liberia and will pave the way for the return of Liberian refugees to their homeland," he said.

The Council congratulated the two presidential candidates for their "serious, mature and peaceful" campaigns, expressed appreciation for the dedicated and able efforts of the National Elections Commission and for the support the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and other multilateral and bilateral partners provided during the preparation and holding of the elections.

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To further underline the new Liberia's irreversible commitment to the rule of law, any concerns related to the election should be pursued and resolved exclusively through peaceful and legal means, the Russian Permanent Representative said.

On the question of Mr. Taylor, the 15-member Council unanimously adopted a resolution saying that, as a part of its additional mandate, UNMIL should keep the Governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as the Council, fully informed should they transfer Mr. Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone or facilitate that action.

The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by the UN and the Government of Sierra Leone in 2002 to try serious violations of international humanitarian law during the country's civil war, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed since 1996. Officials of the Court have long called for the arrest of Mr. Taylor on charges of war crimes in connection with Sierra Leone.

The Council expressed its appreciation to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who, with broad international support, contributed to restoring stability in Liberia and the West African sub-region by providing for Mr. Taylor's temporary stay in his country.

In Liberia, meanwhile, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) presidential candidate George Weah addressed 2,000 supporters at a rally at his campaign headquarters, appealing to them to remain peaceful. Some 500 CDC supporters then marched two miles to an area opposite the National Elections Commission (NEC) building, where UNMIL Formed Police units and Liberia National Police units maintained order.

Mr. Weah's supporters later threw stones near Monrovia's embassy row in the Mamba Point area, describing the presidential elections results, which are not yet official, as unfair. UNMIL Formed Police units dispersed them.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, UNMIL chief Alan Doss, telephoned Mr. Weah about these developments. Subsequently, Mr. Weah provided a recorded interview for UNMIL Radio, broadcast in the evening, in which he issued a peace message and urged his supporters to stay off the streets and obey the law.

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