Taylor Should Stop Accusing People Falsely - Says Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

The Perspective

August 16, 2000

Recently, President Taylor accused Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others for supporting the dissidents fighting government forces in Lofa. The Perspective has sought to get Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf's reactions to the allegation and to clarify some recent statements she has made. Below is the full text of the interview conducted by George H. Nubo:

The Perspective: You and other Liberians have been implicated and ordered arrested by the Taylor government for allegedly supporting the dissidents fighting in Lofa County to overthrow the government of Liberia. Assuming that the allegation is true, why can't you wait for the year 2003 elections if such effort is aimed at making you president?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: The accusation by Mr. Taylor of my involvement in the so-called Lofa war is a diabolical lie and Mr. Taylor knows that . The evidence which he has given in this regard is not only disingenuous but laughable because he said my name was found on the body of a killed rebel. This is stupidity of the highest order. I have to conclude that the purpose of the accusation is a desperate attempt by Mr. Taylor to react to the report of his involvement in the Sierra Leone debacle and the fact that I have put out a press release on the 2nd of August calling for him to take action to clear his name and indicting him for his failure to respond to the needs of the Liberian people during the past three years.

The Perspective: In your statement, you requested the establishment of a committee to investigate the allegations against President Taylor. Speaker Monokomanna has responded by setting up a committee. Is this not a step in the right direction?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: Let me commend Speaker Monokomanna and others to whom I asked that they take some action in their role as representatives of the people to investigate the accusations by the Western powers concerning Mr. Taylor's involvement and benefits from Sierra Leone]diamonds sale. Mr. Monokomanna has reacted by appointing a legislative body to investigate the allegations. I commend them, but I don't think they will get the results.

The Perspective: In your August 2nd statement, you called for an independent body , and not a legislative body. Could you comment?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: I commend him for his efforts to appoint a body but he did not, however, appoint an independent body. He instead appointed a committee of his colleagues in the House of Representatives. He is not going to get the results because the body is not an independent body.

The Perspective: You have been requested by the speaker of the House to provide any proof you may have concerning Taylor's support for RUF and gun-running. Are you going to travel to Monrovia?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: Well, the speaker has asked me to come and at the same time the president has said that he will arrest me when I come to Monrovia. So I don't know what to do. But let me just say to the president that I know his purpose of accusing me. His purpose is to keep me out of the country because he knows of the political work that I am trying to do with the parties - to merge and to get together in an effort to start a process that will defeat him in 2003. He doesn't want me to come to the country. But he is not going stop me. I'm coming to Liberia, so he better get all of his officials ready to arrest me at Robertsfield anytime waiting.

The Perspective: Last week, President Taylor gave his forces 72 hours ultimatum to flush out dissidents fighting in Lofa County . But, like the first month of fighting in Lofa, the 72 hour-ultimatum has expired and yielded no result. Now Taylor is planning to "raise 30,000" fighters to go to fight the dissidents. Don't you think another round of horrors is imminent?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: I hope not and frankly, I don't believe that any group who wants to destabilize the country to remove Mr. Taylor will start from Lofa County. I have my doubts about it. I think the war in Lofa has nothing to do with Liberia, but has to do with Mr. Taylor trying to work with the RUF to fight in the diamond area of Sierra Leone to keep their presence there.

The Perspective: Liberians at home are demonstrating against the British and American governments for the sanctions imposed, and have asked Liberians in the Diaspora to stage similar demonstrations. Are you in support of the demonstration?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: Let me put it this way: I am not sure that Liberians demonstrating against sanctions in Liberia is a true indication of the view of the Liberian people. I think that is an orchestration by Mr. Taylor and his group, providing money to people and telling them to demonstrate. I think Liberians themselves, given their state of impoverishment, are tired of Mr. Taylor and his government for what they [Taylor and his government] have done to the Liberian people. Any sanction against him would lead to Liberians being able to be free, and would eventually take them out of their impoverishment. If they were free to demonstrate in this regard, they wouldn't. But right now they are under his boot, and that's it.

The Perspective: The United States has been implicated in an alleged plot to assassinate President Taylor. The Liberian government claims that the United States has made two million dollars available to would-be assassins to kill the Liberian President . What do you make of the allegation?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: You get so tired of Mr. Taylor's stupidity. If the U.S. wanted to assassinate Mr. Taylor, would they give two million dollars? They have the means to do it on their own. But my understanding is that their policy does not support this type of things anymore. Mr. Taylor is looking for anything he can grab on to try to disguise his failure and to try to deflect from the bad thing he's doing in the region and his failure in our country. I have no association with the U.S. I don't know what the U.S. is doing. I think the U.S is very open in their position on Liberia and they told Mr. Taylor during Mr. Pickering's visit. And right now he's just grabbing at straw to try to deflect

The Perspective: You, along with Alhaji Kromah, Laveli Supuwood, Cheyee Doe, etc., have been accused by the government. Have you met these people recently, or are you in contact with them?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: I know some of these people. I know Alhaji, I know Supuwood. I have not met, nor have I talked to these people for a very long time. As far as I am concern, this whole thing is just a disguise for Taylor 's own problem for the fact that I put out a press release, indicting him for his failure. I have no connection with these people, and I have no means of supporting them. I don't know majority of them. Look, I am not interested in anything that has to do with violence, because I know the experience we have had with Mr. Taylor. What I am interested in, as I said in an interview, is to beat him during the year 2003 elections. And that's what he is afraid of.

The Perspective: What other message do you have for Mr. Taylor?

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf: I just want to call on Mr. Taylor to please stop accusing people falsely. It's not in his interest to accuse people when he knows better. It's not in his interest to make up these lies. If he wants for the country to move forward, he got to do something different.

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