Monrovia Archbishop Wants U.S. to Help Guard Peace in Liberia

Fears That Taylor’s Quick Exit Would Destabilize Situation

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MONROVIA, Liberia, JULY 8, 2003 ( This capital could be destroyed by rebels and government soldiers if President Charles Taylor makes a hasty exit before an international peacekeeping force can guarantee stability, warns an archbishop.

In this respect, Archbishop Michael Francis of Monrovia shares the position expressed on Saturday by Taylor himself, who is prepared to go into exile in Nigeria, but has warned about the threat of instability in Liberia.

The Misna missionary agency quoted Archbishop Francis saying that Taylor’s hasty exit “could even worsen the situation in the city, where over a million people are living in desperate conditions, in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.”

The people lack food and potable water, hospitals have depleted medical supplies, and epidemics of cholera and other diseases are worsening the crisis, the archbishop said. He joined an appeal launched by the 15 nations of the Economic Community of West African States, which decided to deploy 3,000 soldiers, but have repeatedly insisted that the United States lead the peacekeeping operation in Liberia.

Meanwhile, the shooting has stopped in the past days on the streets of the capital, but the looting and violence continues, at the hands of soldiers and rebels — for the most part child-soldiers armed with Kalashnikov rifles.

“At the moment the capital is entirely under the control of government troops, including the port and airport,” Archbishop Francis said. “The police are attempting in every way possible to contain the violence under way, but pillaging is reported everywhere.”

The recent weeks have seen violent clashes between the loyalist soldiers of the president and rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy.

The archbishop said: “Let’s hope that the cease-fire holds while the United States makes a decision.”

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