African leaders have announced their peacekeeping force will arrive in Liberia on Monday. They say they are giving President Charles Taylor three days after the arrival of peacekeepers to get out of the country.
The announcement came toward the end of a day-long summit of West African leaders in Ghana.
As expected, they said Nigerian troops will be the first to arrive in Liberia. Fifteen hundred Nigerian soldiers are to be the first contingent of a much larger peacekeeping force that has been promised.
A 10-member military planning team arrived in Monrovia Wednesday, to make final logistical plans for the peacekeepers. The team from the United States and five African nations is expected to spend two days in the Liberian capital. Residents of the besieged city welcomed the team with shouting in the streets.
In a telephone interview with VOA late Wednesday, rebel spokesman General Joe Wylie of the group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy said the crisis in Liberia will not be resolved until President Taylor not only leaves office but leaves the country entirely.
"We want Taylor out, and we are serious about it. As long as he remains in the picture as a negative factor, the conflict is not going to go away," he said. "We do have information that Taylor does not intend to leave Liberia. He might step down but he will stay in the country and not go out, and it will inflame the situation. We want Taylor out, ECOWAS wants Taylor out, the tribunal in Sierra Leone wants Taylor out, President George W. Bush wants Taylor out - why is he still in Liberia? This is the question!"
While Mr. Taylor will be given asylum, there is nowhere to run for many Liberians. Humanitarian organizations are warning of an impending disaster. Most foreign aid workers left the country as the security situation deteriorated and will only return once the peacekeepers have restored order.