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General News of Tuesday, 15 July 2003

Source: GNA

Liberians engages in power struggle

Accra, July 15, GNA - Stakeholders of the ECOWAS-negotiated Liberian Peace Talks in Ghana are engaged in a power struggle to beat a Thursday deadline to form an interim government for the war-torn West African State.

Formation of an interim government that exclude President Charles Taylor was provided for by Paragraph Eight of the Ceasefire Agreement signed by the three belligerent factions in the 12 years conflict - the government of Liberia, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Development (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) rebel groups on June 17.

The transitional arrangements also include 18 political parties, civil society groups and youth and women pressure groups.

A source at the ECOWAS Secretariat in Accra told the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday that the stakeholders would form a caucus to trim the number of candidates vying for leadership positions. He said a plenary session likely to take place on Wednesday would approve of a suitable candidate.

Some of the names floating for consideration are Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a candidate in the 1997 Presidential elections; Mr Charles Brumskine, a Lawyer and former Senator and Mr George Toe Washington, Former Liberian Chief of Staff.

The rest are Nah Togba Tipoteh, of the Liberian Peoples Party; Mrs Theresa Leigh-Sherman, Leader of the Mano River Women Network for Peace; Mr Kabineh Janeh, Chairman of LURD and Alhaji Kromah, former warlord. Both General Boi Bleaju Boi and Mr Tiah Slanger of MODEL had previously told the GNA that the movement was not interested in the political leadership of Liberia although it was ready to be part of an interim administration.

The source said the number of interested candidates and the composition of the interim government were some of the sticky points in the memoranda submitted by the various parties at the Peace Talks to the Chief Mediator, General Abdulsalami Abubakar to fashion out a comprehensive peace plan.

The transitional process to end the carnage in Liberia with three and a half million people include the deployment of an international stabilization force by next week and the commencement of a disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of combatants.

The rest are restructuring of the Liberian security forces, human rights issues, socio-economic reforms, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-torn country.

Years of bloody conflict have displaced over 500 Liberians and led to grave humanitarian crisis.