07/06/2010 – Moses Varfee Kowo
CAUTIOUS EMBRACE: Representative Patrick Kennedy(D-Rhodes Island) says he appreciates the fact that former Liberian President Charles Taylor might be having a lot of support on the ground but warned all Liberians should see the bigger picture of a democratic Liberia.
If U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy(D-Rhodes Island) had his way, former Liberian President Charles Ghankay should stay as far away from Liberia as possible.
Kennedy, one of eight U.S. lawmakers in Liberia on a three-day working visit to Liberia told reporters after a session with members of the national legislature that it would dangerous for the political future of Liberia if Mr. Taylor is allow to return to the country.
Members of the U.S. delegation with their Liberian counterparts shortly after a meeting Monday. The U.S. lawmakers are on a three-day visit to Liberia.
Congressman Kennedy’s comments come amid ongoing debate and a dark cloud over what the future of Liberia would be in the aftermath of Mr. Taylor after the ongoing trial in the Hague.
Representative Kennedy said he appreciates the fact that Mr. Taylor might be having a lot of support on the ground but warned all Liberians should see the bigger picture of a democratic Liberia.
The issue was resurrected recently when the political leader of the Congress for Democratic Change(CDC)George Manneh Weah declared that he was not opposed to Taylor returning to Liberia.
Weah, in a Radio Netherlands interview said that if Mr. Taylor were acquitted it means he is set free.
Said Weah: “Liberia did not send Charles Taylor to the Hague neither accused Charles Taylor of any crime. So if Sierra Leone accused Mr. Taylor of a crime and he is in the Hague and is acquitted and Liberia also has nothing against Mr. Taylor, he is a free citizen and I think he must go back to his country.”
Taylor, who departed Liberia in August 2003, after he was offered asylum, declared shortly before his departure that “God willing, I will be back.” Many political observers and die-hard Taylor supporters have been struggling to decipher the meaning of Taylor’s statement.
Taylor, who did not receive financial support from the U.S. during Presidential rule blamed the country’s troubles during his term on foreign meddling but challenged the U.S. to help in Liberia and painted himself as a martyr who would be exonerated by historians. “Because Jesus died, we are saved today,” Taylor said. “I want to be the sacrificial lamb. I am the whipping boy. It’s easy to say ‘It’s because of Taylor.’ After today, there will be no more Taylor to blame.”
No Appreciation for Sirleaf, Kennedy BemoansCongressman Kennedy’s comments come amid ongoing debate and a dark cloud over what the future of Liberia would be in the aftermath of Mr. Taylor after the ongoing trial in the Hague.
The son of one of America’s long serving Senators Edward Kennedy called on Liberians to support the work of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whom according to him has led a crusade in the international world for support to Liberia and to wave the country huge debt burden.
Said Kennedy: “President Ellen Johnson has a good approach with international financial institutions. If it was not for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf this country will not be moving as fast as it is now, some people don’t really appreciate that.”
Kennedy further stated that some people need to tell others that this means good thing for Liberia. “The other thing they need to say is that in spite of the trial of Mr. Taylor, people might like the guy but it doesn’t means he is a good person in terms of what he represents in this politics .if he ever to make it back to the country, he will destroy the credibility of Liberia in the international community, the way they will look at his return to the country form people who know and like Liberia , the United states is a part will comment on that because right now as I said Liberia is at a very formative period and somewhat in a dedicate period in the development of its economy, so the wrong message by the people will destruct and sent a wrong message by the people here to the world at the time when everything is important” ,Congressman ended his statement to journalists on capitol.”
The issue of Taylor is emerging as a major political stake in the upcoming 2011 elections. Many observers point to the recent declaration by Weah in support of Taylor’s return to Liberia as a sign that Weah is reaching out to Taylor National Patriotic Party base.
In the aftermath of the 2005 presidential elections, Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor took the winner of the presidential elections, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to task for reneging on her pledge that she would not turn Taylor over for prosecution. Ironically, Weah’s CDC and NPP recently struck a deal to join forces in the 2011 elections.
From 1989 to 1997, Charles Taylor was leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a rebel group that fought in Liberia to overthrow the government of Samuel K. Doe. From 1997 to 2003, Taylor was the democratic president of Liberia. In August 2003, based on an agreement with African Heads of State, Taylor left office after rebel forces had come close to entering the Liberian capital, Monrovia. He was granted political asylum in Nigeria. In March 2006, Taylor was transferred to the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone where he now faces trial.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield
Although the trial is being held in The Hague, Mr. Taylor is still being tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The trial is taking place on the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996, to January 18, 2002. The Prosecutor alleges that Mr. Taylor is responsible for crimes which include murdering and mutilating civilians, including cutting off their limbs; using women and girls as sex slaves; and abducting children adults and forcing them to perform forced labor or become fighters during the conflict in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Taylor is charged on the basis that he allegedly backed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels fighting in Sierra Leone; that he had links with senior leaders in the RUF—such as Foday Sankoh, Sam Bockarie (a.k.a. Mosquito), Issa Sesay, and others—in addition to a second warring faction, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC); and that he was responsible for Liberian forces fighting in support of the Sierra Leonean rebels.