Sunday, August 17, 2003

Liberia: government-rebel talks salvaged

When I woke up early this morning, word was that Liberian President Moses Blah had left Ghana for Monrovia after failing to reach a deal with the rebels.

What a difference a dozen hours make ...

It now appears that the factions have arrived at a deal and could sign it as early as tomorrow.

The main obstacle was LURD's demand that it be given the vice-presidency in a new government. The mediators were loathe to award them that plum job because they didn't want it to seem like a reward for going to war. And late today, LURD retracted their demand, putting the deal back on track.

Here is an interesting comment in the VOA report on the story:
U.N. representative to Liberia Jacques Klein has also voiced his frustrations with the slow pace of developments at the talks. He said the ECOWAS head of negotiations, former Nigerian ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar, was being "too patient," and that those involved in the negotiations were "too comfortable."
It's not often one hears the UN complain about the slow pace of things!

LURD = Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy