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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 01:43 GMT 02:43 UK
Weah wants UN to stay in Liberia
By Robin Brant
BBC News, Monrovia, Liberia

Fire photograph of George Weah
George Weah returned to Liberia from New York to run for president
One of the top contenders in Liberia's presidential election says he wants UN peacekeepers to stay in the country for at least another four years.

George Weah told the BBC that if he wins the vote on 11 October, he would like to see the peacekeepers remain for all of his first term.

He also plans to reduce presidential terms from six to four years.

There are 15,000 peacekeepers in Liberia. It is the UN's most expensive such operation, costing $750m a year.

The mission is reviewed every six months, but the former international football player who is standing for the Congress for Democratic Change wants a longer-term commitment, until at least 2010.

The UN should stay to help "put our books in order", he said.

'New start'

Tensions are rising in Liberia as the country's presidential and parliamentary campaigns enter their final weeks.

The UN should stay for a while for peace to firmly take its root
James, Accra, Ghana (Liberian)

Despite not having any political experience, Mr Weah has given up his life in the US and returned to his home country because, he says, the established politicians have failed his people.

The country was devastated by 14 years of civil war that cost 250,000 lives and left it without any functioning infrastructure.

A transitional government led by President Gyude Bryant - who is not standing in next month's poll - came to power under a peace deal in October 2003.


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