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Liberian Rebels Call for New Cease-Fire - 2003-06-27

Liberian rebels have called for a new cease-fire, so that a humanitarian catastrophe can be avoided in Monrovia.

The rebels released a statement Friday declaring a new cease-fire effective immediately to allow the delivery of relief supplies to civilians in Monrovia.

However, the rebels say they will maintain the forward positions they have gained near the capital in recent days. They have been unable to capture Monrovia during their four-year insurgency to topple President Charles Taylor.

Fierce fighting since Tuesday has displaced tens-of-thousands more civilians and killed hundreds of people.

On Thursday, President Bush called on Mr. Taylor to resign in accordance with a cease-fire deal signed last week by the warring sides, but never respected. Liberian government officials have given mixed signals about the accord, but Mr. Taylor, himself, has said he intends to stay in power, until his elected terms ends in January.

Rebel spokesman, Bodioh Siapoe said he doubts Mr. Bush's speech will have much effect on the overall situation.

"One would think that it would add more pressure, but I don't think it will move Charles Taylor at all," he continued. "The man is known to be very recalcitrant, belligerent and doesn't listen to the voice of the people. He's only interested in himself."

Angry crowds have been bringing dead children to the gates of the U.S. Embassy as a protest to demand direct U.S. intervention. Liberia, which was founded by freed American slaves, has been ravaged by 15 years of nearly continuous civil war since Mr. Taylor launched his own rebellion.

The Liberian leader also faces an indictment by a United Nations backed court in Sierra Leone for his support of brutal rebels there, making it unlikely he will step down willingly.