U.N. council to maintain Liberia embargo

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Monday to maintain sanctions on Liberia including an arms embargo and a ban on importing diamonds from the west African nation, The Associated Press reports.

A resolution adopted by the 15-nation council urged the country’s transitional government, led by Monrovia businessman Gyude Bryant, to take specific steps that could lead to the lifting of sanctions, the AP reports.

The vote came hours after U.N. envoy Jacques Klein briefed the council on political, economic, and disarmament efforts following President Charles Taylor’s flight into exile in August, which cleared the way for a power-sharing deal between his government and rebels after 14 years of fighting, the AP reports. Klein told reporters after the closed-door briefing that the Security Council had “no choice” but to maintain sanctions because Taylor engaged in “so much illegality” in using the country’s timber, diamond and other resources.

In May, the Security Council approved a one-year extension of the arms embargo on Liberia, a travel ban on senior Liberian officials, and a prohibition on the import of Liberian diamonds.

With Taylor’s departure and the installation of a transitional government on Oct. 18, the resolution adopted Monday terminated those sanctions and then reinstituted them on a new legal basis, the AP reports.

The resolution expressed readiness to end the arms embargo when the cease-fire is being fully respected. The council said it would end the diamond ban when the country establishes “a transparent, effective and internationally verifiable certificate of origin regime” for its gems, the AP reports.

Klein said “the key thing” is to get Liberia’s economy moving again.