Global Policy Forum

Liberia: Government Calls for a

Integrated Regional Information Networks
July 7, 2005

Liberia's interim government has called for the exile agreement of former president Charles Taylor to be reviewed, after accusing him of repeatedly breaking the terms of his asylum in Nigeria with daily phone calls back home and orders to supporters that could threaten peace in Liberia and beyond. Taylor and his trademark white suit flew into exile in Nigeria under the terms of the August 2003 peace deal that ended Liberia's 14-year civil war. The warlord, accused of fomenting strife across the West African region, is now holed up in a luxury compound in the remote town of Calabar in the Niger Delta.

"(The) preponderance of evidence of Mr Taylor's interference in Liberian politics as well as his destabilisation efforts of the sub-region combines to provide compelling legal necessity for a review of that internationally-brokered exit agreement," said a statement from the Liberian Justice Ministry, issued late on Wednesday. "The ex-president's current activities (include) daily phone calls to cronies in Liberia and other parts of the world, through which he issues orders and instructions, much to the detriment of peace and security of Liberia and the sub-region," the statement said. "The ex-president cannot continue to be beneficiary of this agreement in the face of increasing, compelling evidence of his notorious violation of that self-same agreement," it added.

Taylor's asylum deal is currently protecting him from standing trial in a UN-backed court in Sierra Leone on 17 counts of crimes against humanity perpetrated in that country's civil conflict. He is accused of supporting the brutal rebellion waged by the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone's decade-long war that officially ended in 2002, by supplying its leaders with guns and ammunition in return for smuggled diamonds.

Despite a chorus of calls from Western governments and international human rights groups to hand over Taylor to face justice, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has so far refused to expel the one-time Liberian leader until he has concrete proof that the terms of his asylum agreement have been violated. Diplomats at the UN Security Council in New York have stopped short of a resolution officially calling for Taylor to be handed over, but have hinted that discussions were taking place in Africa on the subject. Wednesday's appeal from Liberia's interim government to review the terms of Taylor's exile agreement may well be the first step.

It will certainly up the pressure on Obasanjo, who has publicly promised to send Taylor back to Monrovia to stand trial, should a future elected government in Liberia ever decide to press charges and demand his extradition. Interim leader Gyude Bryant had previously said that Taylor's presence in Nigeria was part of the peace process, but warned that if Taylor started behaving in a way that derailed peace, it would change things. Nigerian officials in Abuja were not immediately available to comment on Thursday on the statement from the Liberian government.

The Justice Ministry did not provide specifics about who Taylor had been calling from his Nigerian hideaway, nor details of the orders he was giving. Spokesmen for both the ministry and the government declined further comment when contacted by IRIN. But as Liberia prepares for 11 October elections, the final chapter in the country's transition to democracy, allegations of meddling by Taylor have been numerous. Reports from research groups Global Witness and the Coalition for International Justice have said Taylor is controlling or helping to finance at least nine of the 30 or so political parties that have thrown their hat into the ring for the October ballot. Special Court prosecutors in Sierra Leone have accused Taylor of wiring US $160,000 to his supporters in the Liberian capital Monrovia last October to help start riots that killed 16 people and injured hundreds of others, and have named him as being involved in a January 2005 assassination attempt on ailing Guinean President Lansana Conte.

More Information on International Justice
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More Information on Charles Taylor
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