Liberia's government on Wednesday welcomed the lifting of UN sanctions against 17 Liberians who were part of former warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor's regime.
"The lifting of the travel ban is welcome news for the government of Liberia ..." said Foreign Minister Augustine Naguafan, speaking on national radio shortly before the announcement was made by the UN in New York.
The decision by the Security Council's Liberia sanctions committee was announced in a brief statement that gave the names but no reasons for the move.
The asset freezes and travel bans were imposed over a period of years from 2001 in a bid to contain Taylor who is serving a 50-year jail term for war crimes in Sierra Leone's civil war.
While the list once contained some 55 names of former officials and military commanders, the sanctions were lifted against many of these over the years until only 17 names remained.
The 17 include Taylor's ex-wives Agnes Reeves Taylor and Jewel Howard Taylor, who divorced the war criminal in 2006 and is now a senator. Both women had travel bans and asset freezes lifted.
The list also includes former ministers and other Taylor associates who have since rebuilt political careers in the West African country.
Adolphus Dolo, who is now a senator in Liberia, was a key Taylor military ally who used the alias General Peanut Butter, according to UN documents. He had a travel ban lifted.
Former minister Reginal Goodridge and Taylor's former economic advisor, Emmanuel Shaw, who was accused of organizing arms deliveries, had a travel ban and assets freeze lifted. John Richardson, a former security advisor, also had a travel ban removed.
Restrictions were also lifted against Belle Dunbar, George Dweh, Edwin Snowe, Tupee Taylor, Myrtle Francelle Gibson, Martin George, Cyril Allen, Randolph Cooper and Victoria Refell. Sampson Gwen and Maurice Cooper were taken off the list because they have died.
"We are very happy to hear that news. We have been waiting for this for so long. Now we can go out there and lobby for the uplifting of our country," said Edwin Snowe, now a lawmaker.
All are former allies and associates of Taylor, who sparked a 13-year civil war when he led a rebellion in 1989 to oust President Samuel Doe which deteriorated into one of Africa's bloodiest conflicts.
His National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) earned a reputation for extreme violence, conscripting child soldiers and terrorising citizens of certain ethnic groups
After taking Monrovia, Taylor was elected as president in 1997, but violence again erupted in 1999 when another rebellion started and he lost control of much of the country, fleeing in 2003 to Nigeria.
Taylor has never been charged for his role in Liberia's bloody history, only that in neighbouring Sierra Leone.© ANP/AFP