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U.N. Imposes Liberia Sanctions

The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions against Liberia on Friday for failing to sever its ties with rebels in Sierra Leone.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said the sanctions would take effect starting May 7 and would ban the import of diamonds from Liberia and travel by senior Liberian officials.

On Wednesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the United Nations had received unconfirmed reports that Liberia was still supporting Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels.

"We have got to bring peace to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea," said Greenstock. "We have a policy on that, that policy is to force the RUF to stop fighting."

The Liberian government has said it was closing RUF offices, expelling all RUF members including notorious rebel leader Sam Bockarie, and freezing rebel assets. It also grounded all
Liberian-registered aircraft and banned the import of all diamonds without proper certification, as demanded by the council.

The Security Council authorized the diamond and travel sanctions on March 7 but delayed their implementation for two months in a final attempt to get Liberia to stop the military and financial support that has allowed the RUF to wage a decade-long war against the Sierra Leone government.

Since 1991, the RUF has terrorized Sierra Leone, killing and mutilating tens of thousands of civilians in a struggle largely aimed at taking control of lucrative diamond fields. The United Nations has 12,160 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone - its largest peacekeeping mission - and the Security Council voted recently to boost the mission to 17,500 troops.

By Daniel Cooney

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