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An uncertain calm held in Liberia yesterday after rebels and
loyalists came under fresh US pressure to lay down their guns, the
commander of west African peacekeepers said.
Nigerian General Festus Okonkwo said: "There have been no reports
of fighting overnight. Everything is quiet at the moment".
Rejoicing over Taylor's resignation and departure on Monday was cut
short only a day later, when fighting resumed in the second port
city of Buchanan between pro-government forces and the Movement for
Democracy in Liberia (Model), a rebel group based in the
"There was a problem between the militias and Model but I received
no further reports," of fighting, Okonkwo said.
His Ecomil peacekeepers were despatched towards Buchanan after a
request from Model, who said it was the target of attacks.
Taylor's escape into exile in Nigeria was hailed by leaders
worldwide as a sign that Liberia's nearly ceaseless conflict for 14
years could be brought to a close, and Africa lauded the efforts of
regional peace brokering.
But hopes for imminent peace were dashed when the country's main
rebel group, Lurd, said it would not accept new President Moses
"We want to lead the interim government," Sekou Fofana, the deputy
secretary general of Liberians United for Reconciliation and
Democracy (Lurd), said, adding that Blah, Taylor's former vice
president and guerrilla comrade, was too closely identified with
the former president.
The US stepped up pressure late Tuesday on the rebels, warning that
groups, which continued fighting could find themselves excluded
from future governments.
"Those responsible for re-instigating violence clearly have no
concern for the best interests of the Liberian people," deputy
State Department spokesperson Philip Reeker said.
Referring specifically to Model, Reeker said: "Their actions
threaten further the safety and security of the Liberian people and
will call into question the suitability of those responsible as
partners in the future Liberian government".
The US warning was backed by the presence of some 3 000 marines on
ships off the Liberian coast, which a senior defence official said
could serve as a rapid-reaction force to support west African
peacekeepers. – Sapa.