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Congressional Support Sought For Direct US Intervention

The NEWS (Monrovia), 20 June 2003

A rally, intended to press the United States Government to directly intervene in resolving the Liberian crisis is being planned for Thursday, June 26 in Washington. According to a dispatch posted by a group known as the African Peace Pipe, the rally is being organized by the Coalition of Concerned Liberians and supported by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Members of the US Congress representing the House Subcommittee on Africa and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have reportedly pledged to support a congressional resolution calling for direct US intervention to halt the escalating warfare and humanitarian crisis in Liberia.

According to dispatch Wednesday, the members of congress, led by Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D—FL) and Congressman Donald Payne (D - NJ), met with members of the Liberian community united under the Coalition of Concerned Liberians in an emergency session to discuss the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Liberia due to increasing warfare in recent weeks.

The dispatch said Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey, member of the House Sub—Committee on Africa, expressed serious concern about the limited role of the US government in the wake of bold initiatives launched by her European allies in leading peace efforts in other parts of Africa.

Rep. Payne was quoted as mentioning the French involvement in Cote D’Ivoire and British involvement in Sierra Leone expressing deep regrets over the low-level of US involvement in the Liberian crisis.

United States must take responsibility and assume a leadership role along with ECOWAS and the international community in brokering Liberia’s peace through the deployment of a peace keeping force to ensure the transition to democratic government elected through free and fair elections. Only then will Liberians have a true opportunity for lasting peace Rep. Payne said.

At the meeting, other members of the CBC and the African Affairs committee were Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) and Donna Christian - Christensen of the US Virgin Islands along with representatives from the offices of Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D—MI) Charles Rangel (D - NY), Sen. Jack Reed (D—RI), Patrick Kennedy (D—RI) among others. The dispatch said members of the Liberian delegation also made a united call to the US government through Congress to assume a leadership role through direct intervention to bring relief to Liberia.

They recalled Liberia’s unflinching support for the US during the cold war and pleaded to the US not to stand by again and watch Liberia disintegrate as in the case of 1990, the dispatch said.

Meanwhile, the dispatch revealed that a conference was convened during the session at which time Liberia’s Information Minister, Reginald Goodridge reiterated that Pres. Charles Taylor is willing to step down from power at the end of his current term of office in January 2004.

The cease fire and cessation of hostilities agreement signed in Ghana Tuesday between the Liberian Government and two rebel groups, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and The Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) indicates, however, that President Charles Taylor will step down upon formation of a transitional government that would precede the conclusion of his term.