FYI - THANK YOU TO ALL WHO TOOK THE TIME TO CALL ON 07/30/03
Undoubtably This is the result of our Barrage of Phone Calls to the
White House Yesterday I Am Sure.
Keep the Pressure on the White House to take care of
The Liberian People and restore peace to the region asap.
A Luta Continua, Return Peace to Liberia
And the Liberian People
Please Forward this announcement of Success to
As Many Of Those Who Love Peace, as possible.
"Recirculate Widely Please"
Cheering Liberians Welcome Advance Team
Nigerian Brig. Gen. Festus Okwonkwo, who would oversee any West African
deployment of peacekeepers, salutes U.S. Ambassador John Blaney, left,
upon his arrival at Robertsfield airport near the Liberian capital
Monrovia Wednesday, July 30, 2003. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
July 31, 2003 09:52 AM EDT
MONROVIA, Liberia - Waving handkerchiefs and chanting, "We want peace,"
Monrovia's trapped people on Thursday welcomed an advance team scouting
conditions for a long-promised West African peace force.
With the new hopes of rescue, people in Liberia's capital passed one of
the quietest nights in the last two months of rebel offensives. Gunfire
rattled, but there was relief from the rocket and mortar volleys of
Still, pressure built on West African leaders to get troops on the
ground. Six African countries - Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Benin, Senegal and
Togo - have promised 3,250 soldiers for an eventual 5,000-strong
peacekeeping force, said the Economic Community of West African States,
the regional bloc arranging the force.
The advance team of West African and U.S. officials, which is led by a
Nigerian commander, set off jubilant celebrations in Monrovia as it
passed shacks with tin roofs peeled back by explosives and undetonated
shells in the streets.
"This is a sign of peace coming," refugee Hamilton Woods said with a
As the advance team arrived at the high-walled, heavily guarded U.S.
Embassy, hundreds of refugees taking shelter around the compound spilled
out, fluttering handkerchiefs and flashing peace signs while shouting
"We are hungry, but seeing these people we are full this morning,"
businessman Mohammed Dauda, 31, said. "We hope this marks the beginning
of the end."
Liberia's leading rebel group has pressed since early June to take the
capital and drive out President Charles Taylor, a former warlord whose
battles to win and maintain power have mired the country in 14 years of
conflict. Taylor repeatedly has promised to step down once international
More than 1,000 civilians have died in the ongoing siege, aid groups
say, with battles being fought in densely populated neighborhoods.
Fighting has cut off the main water plant and the port, which contains
aid and commercial warehouses, leaving more than 1.3 million residents
and refugees desperately short of food and water and plagued by disease.
West African leaders have pledged a peace force since soon after the
siege started in June. Nigeria, the region's military power, pledged to
send two battalions totaling 1,500 men as a vanguard force but first it
wants help paying the costs, estimated at $2 million a day.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pressed the West African leaders
Wednesday to commit to a deployment date. Nigeria President Olusegun
Obasanjo arrived in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday for talks with the
presidents of Ghana and Togo on "how to fast-forward the Liberian peace
process, particularly the deployment of troops," Ghana Foreign Ministry
official George Abotey said.
The summit came as three U.S. warships steamed toward Liberia carrying
what President Bush said could be limited support for a joint West
African-U.N. peace force. The ships were about one or two days away from
The United States, which oversaw Liberia's 19th century founding by
freed American slaves, has promised $10 million in logistical support
for the West African mission. Bush has made the deployment of troops
contingent on Taylor stepping down and a cease-fire being in place.
The United States on Wednesday asked the United Nations to authorize a
multinational force for Liberia, followed by a U.N. deployment by Oct.
The advance inspection team, led by Nigerian Brig. Gen. Festus Okonkwo,
was meeting government ministers and U.S. officials Thursday in the
battered capital. Some of the basic tasks scheduled for the next two
days include determining where the peace force will live and how much
fuel is available for it.
Any initial deployment would be limited to the capital, authorities
Liberia's second, smaller rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in
Liberia, declared Thursday that peacekeepers were welcome in its area -
joining Liberia's government and the leading insurgent group, Liberians
United for Reconciliation and Democracy, in insisting the foreign
deployment would be greeted warmly.
"We are very elated to have the first wave," Liberian Defense Minister
Daniel Chea said at the southeastern port of Buchanan, where his forces
were pressing a three-day attempt to retake the city, which was captured
by rebels Monday.
"We see it as a very, very good thing," Chea said. "Their arrival here
is long overdue."
Chea claimed heavy battles in Buchanan on Thursday while rebels said the
city was quiet and in their control
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