"Don't Push Us", Taylor Warns America, Others

The Perspective
February 16, 2001

While the United Nations Security Council is deciding whether to delay or impose sanctions on Liberia for its violent intervention in Sierra Leone, President Charles Taylor is warning Washington and the international community not "push [him] too far."

Addressing jubilant supporters in Monrovia recently when he implicated many of his political enemies in his war and atrocities, Taylor warned the international community: "Don't force us to have to say no to you because you want to degrade us, you want to discredit us and you want to bring our dignity down to the ground. Don't push us to the extent because even a dog in the house when you push him he got to fight back. Don't force us because if you think that we will relent when it comes to justice, when it comes to foreplay, when it comes our dignity, God help us we have to stand up. We don't have a choice when you challenge our dignity. When you challenge our dignity, our liberty, our freedom, our sovereignty as a people, I don't have a choice. Our people do not need to suffer as they are. But when the powerful and the rich believe they must have a monopoly of ideas, yes, people suffer."

Taylor said he looked forward to "constructively engaging" Washington, but warned that, "The same book your read we read it too. So you can't tell me that page 19 of that book means something different to you and means something different to me when we studied the same bookDon't push us against the wall. It's unnecessary. We are a peace loving people. We are a reasonable people"

Amidst cheers and thunderous selections from his military band, he vowed, "When you threaten this poor little country, you threaten our lives and we fear nothing but God.Don't force us to take positions in line with our own Constitution. We have the will to resist you. The will to fight for justice is embedded in every fabric of our entity", he told a cheering crowd of supporters as his military played in the background.

In subsequent public appearances, he accused the US embassy of sending "misleading information" to Washington, contending that this has caused strained ties between the US and Liberia. He further claimed that American officials at the Monrovia embassy were selling passports and visas. Although the embassy refuted the claims, pointing out that the official Taylor claimed to be in prison has in fact been reassigned to South Africa in good standing, a statement from the President's defied the explanation, urging that the Americans must "cleanup their house."

Taylor had issued similar warnings in earlier encounters with American diplomats on his involvement in Sierra Leone, indicating that he will "not bulge" and that no power on earth will twist his hands.

Observers believe Taylor's threats are intended to warn Washington of options available to him, which include further enhancing his already strong links with Libya. Despite these threats, West African leaders convinced the United Nations Security Council to delay sanctions on the Liberia for two months since Taylor has promised compliance.

Various local human rights organizations have blamed the government for the deterioration of security and the accompanying economic hardships. The Liberia Watch for Human Rights, in a statement published last week, accused the Government of fostering a policy "clothed with self-centeredness, oppression, mass corruption and exploitation of the national resources without accountability." The group said evidence from 1997 "clearly reveal[s] that Taylor is responsible for the economic hardship, lack of progress in reconstruction, reconciliation and reunification in Liberia." It said, the warlord turned president has "compromised the welfare of the people for his personal interest."

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, in a report released this week, said the Government must go beyond words to convince the international community of its disengagement in Sierra Leone. The JPC also expressed concern over the government's failure to investigate the controversial death of Vice President Enoch Dogoleah.

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