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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
UN renews Liberia sanctions
Liberian troops
Liberia's army cannot buy weapons to fight rebels
The United Nations Security Council has voted to renew sanctions on Liberia for another 12 months.

The government of President Charles Taylor "has not yet complied fully" with UN demands to end its support for rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone, the council said.

The sanctions are:

  • an arms embargo
  • a ban on diamond sales from Liberia
  • a travel ban on Liberia's leaders

Liberia had argued that sanctions should be ended because the brutal 10-year war in Sierra Leone was officially declared over earlier this year.

The Liberian authorities said the arms embargo was hampering the army's ability to fight rebels based in the north of the country.

The fighting, which has approached the Liberian capital, Monrovia, has forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

'Blood diamonds'

The sanctions were imposed because Liberia was accused of selling so-called "blood diamonds" on behalf of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels in exchange for supplying them with weapons.

Almost 50,000 former RUF fighters have disarmed and the group has transformed itself into a political party to contest elections due next week.

Liberian President Charles Taylor
Taylor is not allowed to travel abroad

But Security Council president Kishore Mahbubani said that peace in Sierra Leone was not yet guaranteed and so the sanctions were renewed.

The Organisation of African Unity had asked the UN to end sanctions because of their "negative impact" on the Liberian people.

But some human rights groups have argued that they should be widened to include the timber trade and the shipping register.

They say that, after the imposition of sanctions, Liberia started funding its weapons purchases by selling timber.

The Security Council said "there was no consensus" on extending the sanctions, but urged Liberia to set up an internationally verifiable auditing system to prove that revenue from registering ships and timber was not being used to buy weapons "in violation of this resolution".

Liberia's information minister, Reginald Goodridge
"Sanctions are unjustifiable"
See also:

01 May 02 | Africa
Liberia accused of war crimes
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Liberia awaits sanctions verdict
12 Mar 02 | Africa
Liberia's forced recruits
05 Mar 02 | Africa
Liberia rebels want peace talks
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