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Liberia Angered by UN Sanctions

U.N. sanctions have taken effect against Liberia after the security council determined last week that the country has not proven it has stopped supporting rebels in Sierra Leone.

The sanctions were announced in March. But the United Nations Security Council gave Liberia two months to provide evidence that it had stopped providing aid and support to rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, whose forces have led a war in Sierra Leone that is entering its 10th year.

Last week, U.N. officials said they had no evidence that Liberia had stopped supporting the rebels.

The sanctions bar the direct or indirect sale of diamonds through Liberia. They also ban President Charles Taylor and other government officials and their spouses from traveling abroad.

The security council's decision to let the sanctions go into effect as scheduled on Monday angered the Taylor government. Officials in Monrovia accuse the council of ignoring Liberia's efforts to comply with U. N. mandates.

Liberian officials say they have expelled RUF leaders, put in place their own ban on diamond exports and grounded aircraft that were alleged to be taking guns to rebels in Sierra Leone.

Government spokesman Robert Lormie in Monrovia tells VOA Liberia is demanding a review of the U.N. decision. "I think it is a matter of the United Nations and the international community sending people out here to really verify whether what we are saying is true or not," he said. "But [as] for us, we have done everything we had ever to do to indicate that we are sincere about what we said. We are innocent and we are being bullied for nothing."

A U.N.-sponsored report in December said Liberia was training and funding the RUF rebels with money from diamond sales. The report said that many of the diamonds had been taken from areas of Sierra Leone that are under the control of the RUF.

U.N. officials say the intended target of the sanctions is Charles Taylor's government and not the Liberian people.

At the urging of government officials, demonstrators took to the streets of Monrovia for the second time in three days to protest the sanctions. The demonstrations, organized largely by women's groups, took place outside the U.S. embassy and U.N. facilities.