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Liberia cease-fire pact signed

French troops defend evacuees inside the EU compound in Monrovia.
French troops defend evacuees inside the EU compound in Monrovia.

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Liberia's President Charles Taylor agrees to a cease-fire for peace talks with rebels. (June 12)
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AKOSOMBO, Ghana (CNN) -- The Liberian government and rebels signed a cease-fire agreement Tuesday after weeks of bloodshed in which hundreds of civilians have been killed in ethnic fighting.

The accord -- which is to take effect at midnight GMT -- calls for the eventual formation of a transitional government that would exclude President Charles Taylor.

It also calls for humanitarian relief to the West African nation and the establishment of a peacekeeping force.

The document, obtained by CNN, calls for "the formation of a transitional government, which will not include the current president, in accordance" with Taylor's June 4 declaration in Accra, Ghana, made at the start of the Economic Community of West African States peace negotiations.

Taylor indicated at that time and has reiterated since he would leave his post when his term expires in January, but only if U.N. war crimes charges against him for his actions in the Sierra Leone civil conflict were dropped. He has expressed willingness to help develop a transitional government.

Last week, Taylor and rebels agreed in principle to a cease-fire, a development brokered by African diplomats. But rebels have said they would not agree to a cease-fire unless Taylor resigned.

Signing the deal -- negotiated in Akosombo in the nearby West African nation of Ghana -- were the government, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia.

A joint verification team from the Economic Community of West African States, the United Nations, the African Union and the International Contact Group on Liberia, and the establishment of a joint monitoring committee were agreed to under the truce.

The government and rebels should "provide security guarantees for safe and unhindered access by humanitarian agencies to vulnerable groups, free movement of persons and goods, we well as for the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons," the truce said.

The parties agreed on the need for the "creation and deployment of an international stabilization force" and to "commit themselves" to cooperate with it.

The agreement also spells out what would constitute a cease-fire violation.

Also, the truce calls for all of the sides to "seek" within 30 days "a comprehensive peace agreement."

The Liberian capital of Monrovia had been under siege for days as government troops battled rebels on the city's outskirts. The country has been wracked by political crises and civil warfare since 1980.

Fighting has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Many have sought refuge in Monrovia, where they have virtually no food or water and sanitary facilities are poor.

More than 100,000 displaced people are in the capital, and 300 to 400 people were killed in the last week in the fighting.

A small contingent of U.S. military personnel have been standing by in the region in case U.S. citizens in the country are endangered by continued fighting.

-- From CNN's Lagos Bureau Chief Jeff Koinange in South Africa and CNN's Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth at the United Nations


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