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Liberian Rebels Not Ready to Give Up Arms

Machine guns. Rocket launchers. Mortars by the crate. An hour’s drive from the country’s newly peaceful capital, Liberia’s rebels remain locked, loaded and battle-ready at their headquarters in the bush. In an early, and crucial, challenge to U.N.-sponsored disarmament here, insurgents have tacked a few more demands — more power, more money — onto their Aug. 18 peace deal. And they insist they’ll keep their bargaining chips, their weapons, until the new conditions are met. “Jungle mortar — yeahhh,” crooned one young rebel, fishing a round out of the back of a pickup truck painted with skull-and-crossbones as a friend rolled a cigar-size joint of marijuana. With a U.N. convoy rolling through town a few miles away, rebels at their base in northwest Liberia showed off their arsenal. To give it up, rebel leader Sekou Conneh now says, he wants a bigger share of power in Liberia’s new transitional government than agreed to so far. Full Story

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