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ECOWAS Raises Concern About US Peace Effort in Liberia - 2003-08-27

At the United Nations Wednesday, a representative of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, raised concern about the U.S. effort to bring peace to Liberia.

Ghana's foreign minister and current chair of ECOWAS, Nana Akufo Addo, told the Security Council that recent U.S. decisions have raised questions about the American commitment to end the crisis in Liberia.

"We view with considerable anxiety recent measures by the United States government, including the withdrawal offshore of Marines in Liberia and [Tuesday's] statement that the United States will pull out of direct involvement in the resolution of the Liberian crisis on October [1] when the U.N. peacekeeping operation is scheduled to begin," he said.

Mr. Akufo Addo made his remarks during an open Security Council session that was followed by closed-door consultations on the Liberian crisis. The foreign ministers of Guinea, Ivory Coast and Nigeria also attended the meeting.

Fifteen-hundred West African troops arrived in Liberia earlier this month, and ECOWAS will soon be sending in 750 more, most of whom will be deployed outside Monrovia.

In his comments to the Security Council, the chair of ECOWAS urged the international community to continue efforts to end the fighting in Liberia as well as to restructure its security forces.

In a statement about the humanitarian situation in Liberia, the Security Council stressed the need to create a secure environment in Liberia that fosters "respect for human rights," protects civilians and supports the mission of humanitarian workers.

Last week, rebel and government groups signed a peace accord to end more than a decade of violence. But reports of fresh fighting in Liberia have emerged. Northern rebels are reportedly pushing toward Monrovia, causing thousands of civilians to flee.