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U.N. Maintains Sanctions on Liberia

December 21, 2005

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to maintain diamond and timber sanctions against Liberia but said it will lift the embargoes when the country’s new government ends illicit trade in its valuable resources.

Liberia’s recent peaceful elections were an important step ``towards lasting peace and stability″ the council said, welcoming President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s pledge to rebuild and meet the conditions for lifting the sanctions.

The resolution adopted by the council underlined ``its determination to support the new government of Liberia in its efforts to meet those conditions″ and encouraged international donors to do likewise.

The Security Council imposed arms and diamond embargoes on Liberia in May 2001 to stop government revenues from those industries from being used to fuel conflict. At the same time it imposed a travel ban on Liberians in former President Charles Taylor’s government who helped rebels in Sierra Leone. A ban on the timber trade took effect in July 2003.

The resolution extended the diamond and timber sanctions for six months. It extended the arms embargo and travel ban for a year.

Taylor fled into exile in August 2003, paving the way for a transitional government which will hand over power to Johnson-Sirleaf on Jan. 16. She will become the first elected female head of an African nation.

The council welcomed the assistance provided by the 15,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Liberia in re-establishing the government’s authority throughout the country.

But it expressed concern that Liberia’s current transitional government took no action to freeze the assets of Taylor, his family and supporters as required by a council resolution adopted last year.

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