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African Leaders Meeting in Dakar - 2001-12-20


Leaders of nations in the Economic Community of West African States are meeting in Dakar, Senegal. Notably absent from the two-day summit in the Senegalese capital is Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose government says has become the target of an assassination plot.

The meeting in Dakar brings together leaders of most of the 15 nations that make up the Economic Community of West African States to discuss issues of security. Among the topics on the table: resolving the remaining tensions among the nations of the Mano River Union - Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Liberian President Charles Taylor this week announced he would not attend the Dakar summit, saying he had information that someone was plotting to assassinate him, possibly at the meeting.

Instead, Liberia is represented in Dakar by its foreign minister, Monie Captan.

Mr. Taylor's decision not to attend the meeting comes as fighting intensifies in Liberia's northern Lofa County. Government troops are battling rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. Liberia accuses the rebels of launching attacks from bases in neighboring Guinea.

The Liberian leader has also claimed that Sierra Leonean militias known as Kamajors have been crossing the border and fighting on the side of the Liberian rebels. Sierra Leone denies the claim.

Heads of state meeting in Dakar hoped to continue mediation efforts to ease tensions between Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

At the meeting, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is expected to take charge as president of the organization, replacing outgoing Malian leader Alpha Oumar Konare.

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