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Rebel Leader: Honor Truce, ‘War Is Over’

August 1, 1993

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ Rebel leader Charles Taylor urged his fighters on Sunday to honor a cease- fire approved by Liberia’s three warring factions, saying the country’s 3 1/2 -year-old civil war was over.

The cease-fire went into effect at midnight Saturday and there were no reports of violations, said a spokesman for the West African force responsible for policing it.

″I think everybody is fed up with the fighting,″ said John Adda, deputy field commander of the five-nation force.

The civil war has killed 150,000 of Liberia’s 2.6 million people, and forced 750,000 to flee the West African nation founded by freed American slaves in 1822.

The United Nations says up to 200,000 people are in danger of dying of starvation and disease in northern areas controlled by Taylor.

The rebel leader, who has broken several previous truces, told his fighters it was time to get on with their lives.

″Some of you were shoeshine boys, carpenters and farmers. I ask you to return to your villages, towns and cities and begin to rebuild your life,″ Taylor said on radio controlled by his National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

″The war is over,″ he said.

The war began in 1989 when Taylor led an invasion to oust the tribalist dictatorship of Samuel Doe, who was later executed. It collapsed into factional feuding and anarchy, leading to the intervention of troops from Nigeria and other nations in the region.

Liberia’s interim government, Taylor’s rebel movement and an anti-Taylor rebel faction signed a U.N.-sponsored peace package last month in the West African nation of Benin.

Besides the cease-fire, it calls for a seven-month transitional government and presidential and legislative elections in February. The government and two rebel factions are to be disarmed by an expanded West African army, which will be supervised by U.N. observers.

Taylor ordered his fighters not to shoot at the West African force, warning ″anybody doing so will be held personally responsible.″

He has said he expects to run in the elections against President Amos Sawyer, leader of the interim government backed by the West African coalition.

Until the new elections, Liberia is to be ruled by a five-member council made up of representatives of the three main warring factions and two ″eminent″ Liberians chosen from a list compiled by the three sides.

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