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Liberians Hold Anti-US Demonstration in Monrovia - 2003-01-10

Hundreds of people in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, rallied against the United States government Friday.

Liberian President Charles Taylor called on his supporters to rally against what he said is an unfair policy by the U.S. government against his administration.

The United States has often criticized the Taylor government for what it says are massive human rights abuses and a lack of transparency in its handling of political and economic matters.

Liberian officials this week accused the United States of undermining their government with its criticism, and of supporting Liberian rebels who are fighting to oust Mr. Taylor. The United States has denied the charge.

Hundreds turned out at Monrovia's Tubman stadium on Friday for the rally against the United States. Speakers called on U.S. officials to push for the lifting of U.N. sanctions that have been imposed on Liberia over its past support of rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Those at the rally were largely young men and women market traders. Many of the women told reporters that government officials had threatened to fine them the equivalent of $15, if they did not attend the rally.

The demonstration was carried out amid tight security, with heavily armed police posted throughout the city.

The Taylor government's call for the anti-U.S. demonstration prompted U.S. diplomats in Monrovia to shut down the visa section at the embassy this week as a security precaution.