Magazine article UN Chronicle

Liberia

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Liberia

Article excerpt

Emphasizing that the holding of free and fair elections as scheduled for 30 May was "an essential phase of the peace process in Liberia", the Security Council on 27 March urged the international community to provide financial, logistical and other assistance to the electoral process, including through the Trust Fund for Liberia, and to provide additional support for the Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to enable it to sustain a secure environment for the elections. In resolution 1100 (1997), adopted unanimously, the Council also extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) until 30 June, and welcomed a series of recommendations by Secretary-General Kofi Annan concerning the role of the Mission in the electoral process.

Those recommendations, contained in his 19 March report, include: strengthening of UNOMIL's electoral unit, including the recruitment of 200 additional personnel to observe the polling and counting of votes; provisions for a quick vote count; additional resources by the international community to enhance refugee repatriation efforts; and a clear understanding with ECOMOG regarding its responsibilities for the protection of international personnel during the electoral process.

In his report, the Secretary-General noted that Liberian refugees would not be allowed to vote in their countries of asylum. In view of that decision, an electoral assessment mission, dispatched to Liberia on 26 February, had "concluded that refugee participation could best be enhanced through a proactive approach to repatriation, coupled with additional efforts to facilitate registration and voting by returnees".

Mr. Annan said that progress on UNOMIL since his 29 January report had been "generally encouraging". In particular, the outcome of the disarmament and demobilization exercise, while not a complete success, "can be considered to be substantial compliance with the Abuja Agreement".

Consensus had emerged on a number of important issues discussed at the second Ministerial Meeting of the ad hoc Special Conference to Support the Peace Process in Liberia (New York, 20 February), including on the need to adhere to the 30 May 1997 date for elections in the country, the Secretary-General said in a 27 February letter addressed to the President of the Security Council. Differences, however, had emerged as to whether refugees should be required to return to Liberia in order to participate in the elections.

During discussions, there had been "strong support" for the role played by ECOWAS, and "a clear understanding of the importance of reinforcing" ECOMOG. The Meeting had also noted the need to coordinate efforts so as to maximize their effectiveness, and a number of donor countries and the European Commission had given "firm pledges of financial and other support".

In a press briefing after the Meeting, its Chairman, then Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Marrack Goulding, said a high degree of consensus had demonstrated that there was the necessary political will both inside and outside Liberia for the peace process to succeed. Donors had made it clear that they were ready to provide the resources needed, and the Meeting had sent a very clear message to the parties that, if they made progress, the international community would respond generously.

The Meeting had been convened to build on the momentum generated by the positive outcome of the disarmament process in Liberia, while identifying and addressing the immediate needs of the peace process and critical requirements seen for the medium term. …

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