Liberian Elections Key To Recovery

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UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 16 (UPI) — Successful elections in Liberia, scheduled for October, will secure the gains made since the end of the civil war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

The United Nations has deployed peacekeepers in Liberia since 2003 to preserve a cease-fire that ended a bloody civil war. The conflict there killed at least 150,000 people and another 850,000 fled to neighboring countries.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is accused by an international court of selling so-called conflict diamonds to fund fighting in Sierra Leone. He has denied the 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ban, in a report to the Security Council, said upcoming elections were critical for national recovery.

“The success of these elections, and the peaceful inauguration of a new administration, will be critical to the consolidation of the tremendous progress the country has made over the past eight years,” he wrote in his report.

October elections will be the second since the end of the country’s civil war. Apart from national reconciliation and issues stemming from non-state militias, Ban noted that the political stalemate in neighboring Ivory Coast has caused “significant” problems for national police.

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