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UN Peacekeeping Commander in Liberia Urges Combatants to Lay Down Arms - 2003-10-19

The commander of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia has called on rebel groups and militias to adhere to the peace accord signed in August this year. The call comes after more fighting has been reported in the Liberian countryside.

Thomas Nimely, leader of Liberia's second largest rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, or MODEL, says some of his positions have been attacked by militia groups loyal to exiled former President Charles Taylor.

Mr. Nimely was this week nominated by his group as minister of foreign affairs in the interim Liberian government. His claim of fresh fighting prompted the Kenyan leader of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia, Daniel Opande, to plead for all sides to adhere to the principles of the peace deal signed in August.

Mr. Opande said the reports of continued attacks and fighting were a matter for concern for the success of the peace process in Liberia.

In a telephone interview, Daniel Chea, defense minister in the days of Charles Taylor, told VOA that the attacks on MODEL had nothing to do with the former president.

Mr. Chea has been nominated to resume his post as defense minister in the transition government. However, the nomination sparked protests from soldiers, who claimed that he was responsible for two years of unpaid wages.

Mr. Chea has yet to confirm that he will take the post, as members of the transitional government will not be permitted to take key posts in the elected government that will succeed it in 2005. "In my case, it's special, because I have aspirations for 2005," he said. "But then, at the same time, I have a moral obligation to my country to disarm all the people who have been armed."

According to Jacques Klein, the U.N. special representative to Liberia, a simultaneous program of disarmament of the three warring factions - the two main rebel groups and the former government - is to begin in mid-November.