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Fighting Rages in Monrovia as Cease-Fire Call by Liberian Rebels is Ignored - 2003-07-30


Fighting continued to rage Wednesday in the Liberian capital Monrovia despite a renewed cease-fire call by rebel leaders. The government is also battling forces at Buchanan.

Monrovia once again woke to more fighting between government and rebel forces. Rebel leaders called another cease-fire Tuesday, but this, like previous instructions from the rebel leadership, has not been followed by troops on the ground.

In a telephone interview with VOA Wednesday, the Liberian Information Minister, Reginald Goodridge, described the situation in the city. "We're putting tremendous pressure on them in the port area, but they are continuing to launch mortars into the city," he said.

Rebels want to see President Charles Taylor out of office and out of Liberia. Mr. Taylor said he would leave office when peacekeeping forces arrive in Liberia.

Mr. Goodridge said the conditions for the president's departure have not been met. "The issue here is that he [Mr Taylor] has made certain concessions … but the international community has not measured up to their commitment," he said.

Regional peacekeepers have been promised to Liberia, but their deployment is being delayed amid questions over who will pay for the force.

He says his government will give full support to a reconnaissance team for the peacekeeping troops expected to arrive in Monrovia Wednesday. Mr. Goodridge urged the deployment of peacekeeping forces to "speed up."

Monrovia has been under siege for 12 days - the longest sustained attack on the capital since fighting escalated in June. A second rebel group launched a separate offensive on the second city Buchanan ending the government's access to a seaport, but heavy fighting for the city is continuing.

Aid workers are warning Monrovia is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, with food and medicine running out and cases of cholera rising.

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