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Extra Security Deployed for Liberia Inauguration


United Nations peacekeepers and the U.S. military have deployed extra security for inauguration festivities in Liberia, culminating Monday with the swearing-in of Africa's first elected female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Out at sea, two naval ships from the United States Sixth Fleet can be seen from rooftops of the capital.

The U.S. Embassy has said the USS Mount Whitney and USS Carr will remain in Liberian waters, until ceremonies are completed.

Meanwhile, U.N. helicopters whiz over the city, and more armored vehicles with the large black U.N. insignia can be seen out on streets of the capital.

More and more troops will be deploying along the main route from the international airport to the parliamentary grounds of the swearing-in Monday, checkpoints along the way will be reinforced, main streets and public places will be blocked off and a quick reaction force will be mobilized.

The spokesman for the 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers, Anders Johansson, seems confident inauguration events which begin Saturday night will pass peacefully.

"We don't see anything that is problematic at the moment and can interfere with the inauguration," he said. "We think it will be a calm, and peaceful day. I never take up any victories in advance but we think we have the right arrangements made for this inauguration."

Many African leaders, as well as First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will be among the guests. Most are expected to come in Monday morning and leave in the afternoon.

Liberia is coming out of 25 years of conflict and military or rebel rule, and peacekeepers have been ensuring security in Liberia since the end of the war in 2003. They also disarmed tens-of-thousands of former fighters.

Liberia is still under an arms embargo and even newly trained police are without weapons.

The U.N. spokesman refused to say whether any of the guests coming into town will have armed bodyguards.

"I cannot speak in details on the security arrangements and I think you can understand why that is," he said. "I think we are pretty clear on who is doing what on these security arrangements."

In 1990, former military ruler Samuel Doe was killed at the port in Monrovia despite the presence of the West African peacekeeping force ECOMOG.

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