Accessibility links

Thousands of Protesters Call on Liberian President to Resign - 2003-07-03


In Liberia, thousands of angry people have taken to the streets of the capital, Monrovia, demanding President Charles Taylor resign.

The demonstrations took place in the center of Monrovia and in Mamba Point, an area in the northern part of the city where many embassies are located.

The protesters said they support President Bush, who has also called for Mr. Taylor to resign.

Liberian authorities sent armed police and the feared Presidential Guard to break up the protests, but the demonstrations erupted again in other parts of the capital.

A pro-Taylor rally was organized in a stadium in the center of Monrovia, but it attracted few people.

President Bush has urged Mr. Taylor to resign as called for in a ceasefire agreement reached last month at peace talks in Ghana. But Mr. Taylor says he intends to remain in power for a few more months to organize a successful transition. He has also warned peace efforts will fail if a war crimes indictment against him is not lifted in Sierra Leone.

The main rebel group, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, released a statement saying it would welcome a peacekeeping force if it had a strong American component.

Like Mr. Bush, the rebel statement said, Mr. Taylor must leave now.

Liberia was founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century and has traditionally had close economic, strategic, and cultural ties with the United States.

Liberian opposition leader Commany Wisseh says U.S. troops should not fear going into Liberia, where he says Mr. Taylor's support is crumbling.

"They would not have to fire a shot," he said. "I am telling you I think that if they fly over there, there will be a few incidents of some drunken fellows but most of them would be fleeing. If Taylor's men were so formidable how come another rag-tag group like LURD can come in at will? If it had not been for the pressure they should ceasefire and back away, Mr. Taylor would not be in Monrovia. He was already running to the nearby villages."

Mr. Taylor, himself a former rebel, came to power in 1997 after eight years of civil war. The Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy insurgency started against him just two years later. Rebels control most of Liberia, but not Monrovia. Several hundred people were killed in fighting around the capital last month.

XS
SM
MD
LG