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Liberia's Interim Leader Marks 100 Days in Office - 2004-01-22


Liberia's interim leader, Gyude Bryant, has marked his first 100 days in office, saying Wednesday that whatever force is necessary will be used to make sure that peace is irreversible.

Speaking to local journalists from the executive mansion in the capital, Monrovia, Mr. Bryant said he would deal firmly with any threat to the Liberian peace process.

"We will respond to anybody," he said. "We will respond with whatever force is needed. Nobody will be allowed to go about in a jungle justice fashion. We will not encourage hooliganism, we will not encourage vandalism."

Mr. Bryant says he is engaging with leaders of one the rebel movements, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, (LURD) to make sure a rift in their movement does not prevent disarmament of former fighters.

LURD's chairman, Sekou Conneh, and his estranged wife, Aicha Keita Conneh, have both been claiming leadership of the movement since returning to Liberia this month from exile.

Mr. Bryant also said he is working to restore basic services in Monrovia after 15 years of nearly continuous civil war.

"We are working with the water corporation to ensure that water can begin flowing into the city," said Gyude Bryant. "We are also working hard to ensure that the health care delivery system functions to make sure we have adequate drugs, we have beds and linens and medicine."

To ensure security, disarm tens of thousands of former fighters and restore basic services, Mr. Bryant says he is getting the help of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers and aid workers.

Mr. Bryant was installed as interim leader in October. Formerly a businessman and opposition activist, he was chosen for the post by former warring factions as part of a peace deal signed in August, following the departure of former president Charles Taylor to Nigeria.

Overall, Mr. Bryant says, his main goal remains to ensure peaceful and democratic elections in 2005. He says after that he will return to what he likes to do best, which he said is business.

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