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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Fears over Liberia peace deal

News that a peace deal had been reached between Liberia's warring factions has evoked optimism, particular among ordinary Liberians, according to African media reports.

But some quarters fear the deal may do little to remove the country's root problems of corruption and power-hungry politicians.

After the deal was reached on 18 August, newspaper reporters filing from Liberia were quick to pick up on the delight and hope on the streets of the capital, Monrovia.

"Liberians have welcomed the signing of a peace deal between the government and the main rebel groups," Nigeria's The Day reported. "In the capital, the overall feeling was one of optimism."

This time the international community must ensure that the deal stands
Vanguard

"We thank God for the peace agreement," one resident of the Liberian capital was quoted as saying. "No more gun shooting, no more running around."

Much hope rests on the international force provided by Nigeria and other West African states.

"In Monrovia, the presence of peacekeeping troops is a strong signal to people that perhaps this deal and this interim government might actually work," the paper's correspondent said.

Caution

However, the Vanguard, also a Nigerian paper, relayed more cautiously optimistic opinions.

"Seeing is believing," Mary Sieh told the paper. "If these guys don't stick to the agreement, it will make us ordinary Liberians feel sick to our stomachs."

In central Monrovia, where the paper said shops were opening for the first time in two months, people were wary about the strength of international commitment to peace in Liberia.

"This time the international community must ensure that the deal stands," money changer Varney Gbessy said.

The lessons of Liberia are that tolerance and power-sharing are the key to real peaceful and democratic governance
Ghana Palaver

But the Ghana Palaver believes the fate of the last Nigerian-led peace mission in the 1980s and 1990s shows that foreign troops may become part of the problem.

"The greedy and ambitious rebel warlords and the corruption and indiscipline of the previous Nigerian troops combined to unite the Liberian people to ask the troops to leave and even to opt for the 'devil' - hence the huge vote for Charles Taylor," it says, referring to Taylor's election victory in 1997.

In spite of this, the paper also believes the peace process can be a step forward for Liberia and West Africa as a whole.

"The lessons of Liberia are that tolerance and power-sharing are the key to real peaceful and democratic governance."

Sad story

However, some Liberian papers abroad - the only ones that appear to be functioning - are scathing of the Accra deal.

The US-based newspaper The Perspective thinks the peace deal brokered by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar in Accra has handed power to the very people it blames for Liberia's troubles.

It is a sad story that nobody will be held responsible for the recent slaughtering of over two thousand hapless Liberians
The Perspective

"The winners in this Ghana job fair are the warring factions. The groups that have terrorised the Liberian people have been rewarded with the entire nation by the general for a job well done," it fumes.

The New Democrat, a Netherlands-based paper calling itself "an independent Liberian voice" agrees.

It argues that the horse-trading over posts in the interim government during the peace talks does not bode well for the country's future.

"One does not have to look far, with the scrambling over jobs in Ghana, to know that greedy politicians are again on board to begin to suck Liberia with mercenary politics," it says.

And there are fears that the peace process may lead to people guilty of atrocities in Liberia's long civil war going unpunished.

"It is a sad story that nobody will be held responsible for the recent slaughtering of over two thousand hapless Liberians," The Perspective says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Liberian aid lifeline sought
08 Aug 03  |  Africa
In pictures: Liberia peacekeepers
07 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
Country profile: Liberia
10 Jun 03  |  Country profiles


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