(Rapaport…January 15, 2001)The United Nations is expected to implement sanctions against Liberia following the release of the UN Expert Panel Report on Sierra Leone. The report cited Liberia, as well as Burkina Faso, the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and others, for transshipping conflict diamonds originating from Sierra Leone’s RUF rebels and/or Angola’s UNITA rebel movement.
In response, the Liberian government claims to have adopted a new policy of disengagement and will “not in any way support” the activities of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, called on rebels to lay down their arms. The statement also announced that former RUF commander, Sam Bockarie and “all persons connected with the RUF” have left Liberia.
In the statement, Liberian president Charles Taylor expressed his agreement with the United States that there must be an early and full disarmament of the RUF through a “credible and effective” disarmament, demobilization and reintegration policy. The Liberian government also called on the international community to assist in the implementation of such a policy.
Critics of Taylor are skeptical of a real change, arguing that the Liberian president’s words are designed to halt an increasingly eminent UN sanctions initiative. The RUF rebels have reportedly given UN forces control of the important Tongo diamond field. This may be in response to the fact that Liberia will not support the rebels anymore fearing the threat of an international embargo.