Liberians hope for peace with new government: Aid shipments begin under UN accord that should bring democratic elections next year

THE NAMING of a new transitional government recognised by all, and the start of international aid shipments to destitute civilians caught behind rebel lines are the surest signs yet that Liberia's civil war is over, at least temporarily, writes Karl Maier.

The make-up of the five-member transitional State Council was announced yesterday in Cotonou, capital of the Benin Republic, after meetings of the three main Liberian factions: the former interim government of Amos Sawyer, Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), and the United Liberation Movement (Ulimo). The council comprises one member from each group and two other well-known Liberians, including David Kpomakpor, a former supreme court justice, who were chosen from a list of nine people nominated by the factions.

The council and a still unnamed 35-member transitional legislature, to consist of 13 members each from the NPFL and the interim government, and nine from Ulimo, are key elements of a UN-sponsored peace accord signed on 25 July and designed to end the 44-month war, leading Liberia to democratic elections next February. The ceasefire, to be monitored by UN observers, representatives of the three factions, and soldiers of the Nigerian-led West African intervention force, known as Ecomog, has held since taking effect on 1 August.

The first aid shipments to an estimated 200,000 civilians trapped behind rebel lines since last October began on 13 August. The UN and the medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which sponsored the first convoy, are preparing to send a second one today. MSF officials said they hoped to dispatch 500 tonnes of food by rail from the port of Buchanan to the north later this week.

Talks have also begun in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, between the factions on the most difficult aspect of the peace plan, the disarmament programme to be carried out by an expanded Ecomog force that would include UN monitors and troops from other African countries.

The UN has estimated that the civil war, sparked by Mr Taylor's insurrection in 1989 against the dictatorship of Samuel Doe, claimed the lives of 150,000 people, displaced half of Liberia's 2.6 million people, and forced 750,000 people to flee Liberia and take refuge in other countries.

Previous peace accords have failed, most recently last October, when an attempt by NPFL troops to capture Monrovia reignited the war. Mr Taylor, whose forces control two-thirds of the country, has justified the assault by charging Ecomog with giving covert support to his bitter rivals in Ulimo.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home