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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Liberia denies Swiss asset claim
Liberian President Charles Taylor
Mr Taylor promises to resign if accounts are found
Liberia's government has denied claims that it has salted away $3.8bn in Swiss Bank accounts.

President Charles Taylor on Tuesday called on opposition parties and the international groups to investigate the claims and said he would resign if they were proved to be true.

British human rights group Global Witness had also alleged in a report that the Government trains, arms and deploys mercenaries in the region

The government said in a statement that The Usual Suspects: Liberia's Weapons and Mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone report was a "campaign of lies that hit below the belt".

It added the claims were "false and intended to influence the up-coming review of the sanctions on Liberia (by the United Nations) with the hope of renewing and extending (their) imposition".

The West African country is under an arms embargo to stop it aiding Sierra Leonean rebels in exchange for weapons.

Self-defence

Rebels of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) have been fighting for three years to oust Mr Taylor and control the country's diamonds and timber resources.

The conflict followed a civil war, which started in 1989 and ended seven years later, that left Mr Taylor in power but claimed 200,000 lives.

Liberia says the embargo has prevented it from defending itself against the LURD and has called for its end.

"We consider the ...(Global Witness) report to be biased because no mention was made of the Guinean government's support to LURD or the fact that Liberian mercenaries armed by Ivorian authorities continue to attack Liberia," the government said.

Counter claims

The Liberian government also dismissed as "a campaign of lies" the report's claim that Monrovia has sent mercenaries to Ivory Coast and used logging revenues to buy arms.

There has been a surge of fighting in the forested areas, which the government claims "severely disrupted logging activities, hence it is absurd to speculate that the government is receiving any substantial revenue from logs".

It said that Global Witness's "self-appointed role as judge and jury is part of an evil international conspiracy to suffocate poor countries such as Liberia and cheat the people out of their development aspirations".




SEE ALSO:
Liberia breaks arms embargo
27 Mar 03  |  Africa


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