Liberia Dismisses UN Sanctions
December 22, 2000

Liberia's presidential spokesman has warned the international community to let "sanity" prevail and avoid imposing sanctions on the country. He said sanctions would not bring down the Taylor regime because it is backed by the people.

Reginald Goodridge told the BBC Thursday that UN report implicating the Liberian president was false. He called on the global community to monitor external bank accounts to verify if President Taylor has benefited from Sierra Leone's diamonds. He further called for the examination of Liberia's ports and borders for what he regards as verification of its diamond smuggling.

But Mr. Goodridge, who served as PR officer for the rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and its leader Taylor, said Liberia will "prosper" even with the sanctions imposed. He recalled that sanctions have been imposed on other countries before without success.

He said although other countries were named in the UN report, only Liberia is being singled out for sanctions. But the UN report recommended actions against neigbouring countries, including Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire, the Gambia, Guinea, said to be engaged in blood diamonds dealings. Liberia was however the main culprit mentioned in the report. The report said President Taylor's links to the blood diamonds, and his ties to the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone, were "overwhelming." It said Taylor's role in fuelling the Sierra Leone war was "unequivocal."

Both the British and the Americans are calling for tougher sanctions against Liberia for its alleged involvement in regional wars. The Clinton administration this year imposed a travel ban on President Taylor, his family and officials.

Meanwhile, the Liberian authorities have been pouring supporters in the streets against the UN report and prospects of sanction. President Taylor warned opponents of his regime against public demonstrations, declaring, "Liberia is no Belgrade."

A former warlord, President Taylor won election this year following a near decade war that led to the killing of 250,000 people. There are a few social services in the country. Its only hospital was closed down this month due to neglect. There are about 25 doctors in the country's health service, according the Ministry of Health. President Taylor regularly takes health trips in South Africa or Paris. Many of his key lieutenants are sent to neighboring Cote D'Ivoire, which backed Taylor's, for medical treatment

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