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Security Council Extends Sanctions Against Liberia - 2003-12-23


The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution Monday to renew sanctions, including an arms embargo, against Liberia for another year.

The 15-member Security Council unanimously approved the resolution rather than lifting sanctions against the troubled West African nation.

A United Nations spokesperson says she expects the sanctions to be adjusted now that the government of Charles Taylor is no longer in power. But for now, the measure maintains an arms embargo, a ban on Liberia's diamond and timber exports and a travel ban on Liberia's leaders.

Liberian authorities had called on the Security Council to lift the embargo because the decade-long war with neighboring Sierra Leone has been officially declared over. They also say that the weapons ban is preventing the army from quelling rebel violence in northern Liberia.

The council adopted the measure after a briefing by special U.N.envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Klein said the Security Council can only lift the sanctions after they are sure Liberian natural resources will be used to help the Liberian people.

"We have no choice. We have no choice, because there is so much illegality. You see, Liberia is immensely rich. That money should be going into the governance of Liberia and the treasury of Liberia and not into the pockets of international speculators," he said.

The Security Council renewed the sanctions with the hope that the measures will help continue to stabilize Liberia.

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria in August after a bloody conflict with rebel groups. The Security Council then authorized 15,000 peacekeepers, but so far, only half that number is on the ground.

The United Nation is expected to hold a donors conference in New York in February to try to raise $300 million for Liberia's reconstruction.

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