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Liberia/ECOWAS - 2002-06-14

The Economic Community of West African States has just ended a five-day visit to Liberia to assess the security situation. Liberian Defense Minister Daniel Chea says the Liberian government will accept the outcome of the delegation's findings.

He says "we are of the conviction that their report will be balanced - unlike those diplomatic missions that keep submitting reports just from the corridors of their residences in Monrovia - these guys have gone on the field, they've talked to a cross-section of the citizenry, they've seen for themselves - so there's no doubt on my mind or anybody in this government's mind that there's going to be bias - it's going to be very very balanced. "

However, the Defense Minister says his government has no plans at this time to seek ECOWAS military intervention to help control the current rebel insurgency in the country. He calls such action premature.

He says "arms intervention in the conflict, will be the last resort, and it will never come about unless the host country requests it - and this government has no intention of requesting such an intervention. "

Minister Chea says the government would like to see what he calls the logical involvement of ECOWAS in the resolution of the ongoing instability in Liberia.

Many citizens and domestic military analysts believed the visit of the ECOWAS mission could have paved the way for a possible military intervention by the ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitory Group known as ECOMOG.

The Taylor administration, which is an offspring of the former rebel movement, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, opposed the intervention of ECOMOG in Liberia five years ago. That intervention helped to end seven years of brutal civil unrest.

The ECOMOG assessment mission which departed Monrovia Thursday was headed by J.A. Oladipo of Nigeria. Other members of the mission came from Ghana, Senegal, Mali and The Ivory Coast.