(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Liberia threatens to pull out of Sierra Leone peace committee

Liberia said yesterday (Tuesday) it might withdraw from the ECOWAS Committee of Six on Sierra Leone if governments continued to accuse it of arming and feeding RUF rebels.

In a government policy statement received by IRIN today, it said the “crisis of confidence” surrounding Liberia’s involvement in the Sierra Leonean war made it difficult for Monrovia to contribute effectively to the sub-region’s effort to end the conflict. The statement follows renewed allegations, the latest made on Monday during an ECOWAS emergency meeting on Sierra Leone in Cote d’Ivoire, that Liberia was supplying the rebels, in defiance of an UN arms embargo.

Liberia said it had made several overtures to disprove its involvement in the war but its approaches had been ignored. One of the proposals was for joint patrols of the Sierra Leone/Liberian border by ECOMOG and Liberian forces. Another, it said, was an invitation to the UN Secretary-General to deploy UN observers along the border.

“Liberia’s denial of involvement is not new,” the ECOMOG spokesman told IRIN.

The Liberian statement also said that successive governments in Sierra Leone, including that of President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, had used Liberian mercenaries to augment their national security capacity. “Even now, the Kamajor militia are using Liberian mercenaries to assist in their fight against the Junta/RUF forces,” the statement said. “We view the constant arming and use of these mercenaries as a threat to our national security and to the stability of the sub-region.”

In the communique issued at the end of Monday’s meeting, West African foreign ministers called for an end to the use of mercenaries in Africa.

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