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Liberian Rebel Leader Returns Home - 2003-09-23

The leader of the rebel group that spearheaded a campaign to unseat exiled former President Charles Taylor has returned to Liberia.

The leader of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, Sekouh Conneh, is back in Liberia for the first time in four years.

Before leaving neighboring Guinea on Monday, Mr. Conneh thanked the government for its active support of his movement, which he said enabled the liberation of Liberia from what he called a reign of terror. The Guinea government has in the past, repeatedly denied supporting the rebels.

It is not clear what role Mr. Conneh will play in Liberia as the country enters a two-year transition phase, that is designed to end more than a decade of intermittent fighting and instability. His group participated in the talks that decided on a transition government that will formally take control of the country on October 14.

As the rebel leader made his way to Liberia, announcements were made in Sierra Leone that 800 Bangladeshi troops are to join the peacekeeping operation in Liberia.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved 15,000 peacekeepers for Liberia.

Although a regional peacekeeping operation began more than a month ago, much of Liberia beyond the capital remains unsecured. Guinea continues to report the arrival of refugees fleeing fighting in the Liberian countryside.