The report, released to the Security Council today, is the second in the series of the Secretary-General’s three-month updates on the situation in Liberia, dominated most recently by the insurgency mounted by the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).While he reports that LURD has apparently consolidated its grip on large areas within the country – the fierce clashes with Government forces sending thousand fleeing from their homes – the situation has been made worse by the emergence of an apparent LURD splinter faction, known as the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). That new group has now reportedly gained ground in several southeastern counties.“The deteriorating security situation has resulted in widespread violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties,” Mr. Annan writes, citing credible reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, abductions, mutilations and forced recruitment of child soldiers and displaced persons. “The humanitarian community is concerned that government security forces are increasingly unequipped to offer protection to civilians,” he adds.Importantly, however, the Government and LURD have now agreed to hold direct talks and both have pledged to cooperate with the mediator representing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Liberian parties have also agreed that upon signing a ceasefire agreement, an international force should be deployed to monitor compliance by the parties. The mandate of that force is expected to be determined during peace talks currently underway in Accra, Ghana.“It is therefore imperative to encourage the warring parties to end fighting immediately and to give serious thought to the idea of deploying a mechanism to monitor such a ceasefire once it is declared,” Mr. Annan says. Further, there is a need to warn the various parties that violations of human rights must end, and that those who violate international humanitarian law will be prosecuted.As to elections, the Secretary-General acknowledges that the ongoing war, the legal and constitutional impediment, the lack of funds and the absence of structural reforms areas hardly conducive to efforts to hold the planned ballot.