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Did Liberia Prez Leave With Loot?

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is escorted through Monrovia's Roberts International Airport, Monday Aug. 11, 2003, before boarding an aircraft, enroute to exile in Nigeria
AP
The UN's special envoy to Liberia says he's checking into "rumors and allegations" that former President Charles Taylor left for Nigeria with $3 million meant for disarmament in Liberia.

He says there's no money in Liberia's treasury and "that's going to be a major problem" as they try to rebuild the country.

Meanwhile, the deployment of several hundred West African peacekeepers to Liberia's volatile interior was postponed because government troops have yet to withdraw from the area, a top peacekeeping official said.

Government troops must leave the checkpoints in and around the north-central town of Kakata, Col. Theophilus Tawiah, the peace force's Ghanian chief of staff, said Saturday.

"We want to get between (rebel) forces and government troops," Tawiah said. He blamed "a lack of coordination" with defense officials for the delay.

Defense Minister Daniel Chea said government troops would pull out of the town. "It requires scrutiny so that it is done properly," Chea told The Associated Press.

The deployment, now set for Monday, will establish the peacekeepers' first substantial foothold outside the capital since arriving in the war-shattered nation to bolster security on Aug. 4.

North-central Liberia has been among the most troubled spots in the country since the peace force landed ahead of an Aug. 18 peace deal which has largely brought calm to the capital.

Both rebels and government forces have been accused of pillaging villages in Liberia's countryside despite the peace agreement.

The peace force now numbers 3,050 soldiers, and is expected to reach its full strength of 3,500 African troops by Wednesday.

The peacekeepers helped end two-and-a-half months of rebel sieges of Monrovia, lifted after warlord-president Charles Taylor resigned and flew into exile in Nigeria on Aug. 11.

Meanwhile, Gyude Bryant, who is slated to take over Liberia's transitional government from President Moses Blah on Oct. 14, planned to send a 30-member team to Liberia from Ghana on Sunday, said Harry Greaves, an adviser to Bryant.

The team, which will include Liberian rebel officials, politicians and civil society representatives, is being sent to assess security and the economic and political situation in Liberia, Greaves said in Ghana's capital, Accra.

Bryant is to supposed to serve as chairman of a two-year interim government that will preside over elections, turning over power to democratically chosen successors in 2005.