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Liberia's Warring Sides Agree To Share Power - 2003-08-18

Liberia's warring parties have signed a comprehensive peace deal, designed to end 14 years of nearly non-stop civil war.

The accord was signed Monday in Ghana by Liberia's two rebel factions (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia) and government representatives.

The ceremony was led by John Kufuor, the President of Ghana and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which brokered the peace deal.

The warring sides agreed to a power-sharing interim government and a legislative assembly. The new administration will take over from interim president Moses Blah in October and govern Liberia until January 2006. At that time, new elections are to be held.

The top two spots in the new administration are to go to candidates from political parties or civic groups -- not members of the former government or rebel groups.

A major breakthrough occurred on Sunday, when the main rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), dropped its demand for the post of vice president in a new government.

One week ago, Charles Taylor resigned as Liberia's president and left the country to live in exile in Nigeria. He was under enormous pressure from political opponents and several governments, include the United States, to step down.

Former vice president Moses Blah will lead Liberia until October.

All sides have agreed to allow aid agencies full access to territory they control, in order to resume delivery of much-needed humanitarian supplies.

Relief workers are anxious to help hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been living for months with little, if any, access to food, water and medical supplies.

Reporter Sarah Simpson contributed to this report.