Taylor Accused of Corruption and Failure
October 31, 2000

Since the 1997 elections in Liberia that brought Charles Taylor to power, Liberian opposition figures have been living in fear. Some have been killed, while others are languishing in prison on fabricated treason charges. Those who live in exile are consistently implicated in alleged efforts to unseat the Liberian President. But this is not without a fight! Opposition Politician, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, recently fought back in an open letter to President Taylor.

The exiled Liberian Opposition leader, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has accused President Charles Taylor of repeating and fostering the "monopolization of power and privilege by an elitist few whose accumulation of wealth and life style stand out in stark contrast to the unprecedented state of impoverishment to which our people have been subjected under your regime".

Mrs. Sirleaf further challenged "the exclusiveness of the ruling party which talks the empty talk of unity but denies equal opportunity to jobs, to freedoms, to personal security, and to members of the opposition parties who reject sycophancy by demonstrating independence in thought and action," adding that Taylor was engaged in the "disbursement of large sums of scarce public resources for empty public relations maneuvers, since a positive national image can result only from sound national policies and good national priorities."

In the Open Letter to the President on many allegations thrown at her in recent months, Mrs. Sirleaf said:

"I stand accused of criticizing the emphasis on short term exploitation of the country's resources for the personal enrichment of a privileged few, and I stand accused of strong disagreement with your Government policies on subsidies, monopolies and unjustified incentives for certain privileged businesses that are in collaboration with you and your cronies at the expense of the poor."

She repeated her demand for the President "to allow an independent inquiry into the horrible killings of civilians such as Mme Norwai Flumo and our Party senatorial candidate Samuel Dokie and his entourage while in the custody of an important security official of your Government. This call was rejected out of hand confirming the prevailing view that they too fell victims to your extermination policies."

Mrs. Sirleaf, barred from returning to Liberia following President Taylor's recent vow to personally arrest her on charges of treason, accused Taylor of "squandering of the opportunity to be different from successive Governments of Liberia that have failed to engineer the long overdue reordering of our country's economic, social and political systems to ensure true national unity, equal opportunities, human security and sustainable growth and development."

She said, "I stand accused of challenging your assertion that your government's failure is due to the lack of foreign assistance, pointing to the fact that external partners are willing to help only if a government is committed to development and uses its own resources for this purpose."

She accused Taylor of "diabolically betraying the people's mandate; which they extended to you with the fervent hope that you would use same, and behave, in a manner compatible with their aspirations of reconstructing their lives, properties, and traditional roles as respected members in the comity of nations."

She contended that Taylor was guilty of "of the perversion with which you have violated the people's basic human, political and economic rights to the extent that they are forced to live in fear, disenfranchised and as beggars."

The former UN Executive, who came second in the 1997 elections, said Taylor was "blatantly using the people's resources - without accountability or transparency - for your nefarious misadventures in Sierra Leone and now Guinea and insidiously justifying this with the Lofa incursion."

She regretted that Taylor had brought "our long respected nation into disrepute and international isolation to the point where you are afraid to represent our country at United Nations General Assembly and OAU meetings and to the recent banning of you and of your Government to travel to the United States a country of traditional partnership."

She denied allegations levied against her for allegedly backing Liberian insurgents now fighting the Government in the north of the country.

"If I had confidence in our judicial system and its independence from your heavy hand, I would willingly submit to the legal process to clear my name. I have no doubt, however, that the opportunity to do so will come as, no matter what you try to do, I will remain alive to continue to serve my party and my country with dedication, commitment and honesty, as I have consistently done in the past.

"As you well know, Mr. Taylor, there is not a scintilla of real or true evidence to substantiate this new blatant accusation so there must be other motivations for such fabrication. In this regard, I submit to the widely shared view in Liberia and around the world that it is my Press Release of 2nd August, that has really upset you. By that release, I charged you with total failure to move our country forward three years after your coming into power. I also predicted that, your record being what it is, the opposition will surely defeat you and your Government in the next elections. I am thus convinced that this malicious accusation is based on a crude attempt to prevent me from returning home to continue the political work that will prepare Unity Party for an effective and winning participation in the 2003 general elections."

On her controversial role in the Liberian war and Taylor's contention that she was part and parcel of his rebel movement, Mrs. Sirleaf said:

"I stand accused of providing, along with other concerned Liberians, a small measure of support for you and your movement, which started a rebellion against the dictatorial regime of President Samuel Doe in December 1989. This support was given long after your rebellion had made significant territorial gains, and we felt it both an enlightened and pragmatic thing to do in the hope of influencing a sensible course of events. However, I was never a part of your plotting and your organization, as you have tried to make the public believe by your frequent utterance of ' I know that girl. We are all rebels' In any case, this support for your group was short lived because you betrayed our trust by the elimination of loyal and innocent colleagues.

"I stand accused of taking your Government to task for its failure to restore and deliver basic services such as water and electricity to the people, this despite the commitment of certain official donors to provide assistance in this regard.

"I stand accused of pointing to the absence of vision on the part of your Government that would foster sustainable growth and development of our country."