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Monday, 21 April 1980
Page: 1584

Senator WHEELDON (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government recognised the new regime which has been installed in Liberia following the recent military uprising against the government of that country? Does the Government have any views on the subsequent murder of the former President, Mr Tolbert, and some of his colleagues? If the Government does believe, as some people may well do, that their murder was a rather conspicuously brutal action, has it made any public protest or has it made any protest to the people who now exercise authority in that country?

Senator CARRICK - My briefing indicates that William Tolbert. the Liberian President since July 1971 and the Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, was killed on 12 April in a military coup by non-commissioned officers led by Master-Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. The Government regrets the bloodshed which has attended the overthrow of President Tolbert 's Government. It was aware, however, that there were popular grievances in Liberia based on economic and political inequalities. It is the Government's hope that a normal situation will soon be restored in Monrovia, with proper respect being paid to human rights and economic development to benefit all Liberians. The Government is not yet aware of what arrangements will be made for the accession of a new chairman of the OAU. The Department is making inquiries about the welfare of Australians living in Liberia and is watching developments there. Early indications are that there have been no expatriate casualties. I have no information on our recognition or otherwise of the new regime. I will seek that information and let the honourable senator know the result.

Senator WHEELDON - I wish to ask a supplementary question. Are we to take it from the Minister's answer that the Government believes that, in view of the fact that certain people in Liberia held grievances which may or may not have been justified, that in turn justified the murder of the President and other prominent Liberians'

Senator CARRICK -The statement I read out says the contrary.

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