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West African Peacekeepers Begin Moving Extending Mission into Liberian Countryside


Peacekeeping troops have begun moving out of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, and are beginning to bring some measure of security to the immediate countryside.

Troops from Guinea Bissau had been about to move out of Monrovia to secure the central town of Kakata, the scene of much unrest in recent weeks. But late Saturday the interim government was forced to ask the peacekeeping forces to delay their deployment because of what were described as "unruly" government militias in the area.

Speaking to VOA by telephone from Monrovia, Daniel Chea, the Liberian defense minister, said the problem had been resolved and that the peacekeeping troops would be in place Monday. "Everything was resolved yesterday. By this time tomorrow the deployment will be have been midway or just about completed in Kakata and other places," he said.

Mr. Chea said he was pleased with the progress made by the peacekeeping forces in Liberia. He said the peacekeepers had brought a great change for the better in the country.

But peace and security depends on peacekeepers being deployed throughout Liberia. Mr. Chea said this will happen under a U.N. mandate, which he hopes will come into force in early October. "That will be the date on which the present mandate of ECOMIL is transformed into that of a U.N. mandate, so all the troops on the ground will be blue helmeted and by that time hopefully different troops from other parts of the world will join those on the ground right now to come to a total of some 15,000 troops, a number which we believe will be adequate to cover the whole country," he said.

Such large peacekeeping missions have been seen in the region before. At its height, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in neighboring Sierra Leone was made up of more than 17,000 troops and was widely applauded for securing the end of a similarly protracted civil war.

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