West African leaders have approved the deployment of peacekeepers to war-battered Liberia and called for troops to arrive by Monday at the latest.

In a statement after a summit in Ghana's capital Accra, the leaders said they had agreed that President Charles Taylor should hand over power and leave Liberia within three days of the arrival of the West African troops to the country.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fighting between rebels and government forces, which has also led to a refugee crisis.

The rebels now control around four-fifths of the country.