Liberia, Nigeria Key to Taylor’s Handover - Says Frazer

Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted February 14, 2006


The fate of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, lies in the hands of the country he misruled for more than five years and in those of Nigeria where he lives in exile, says Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer.

Frazer, according to Washington File, testified before the House Africa Subcommittee February 8 on the significance of the presidential elections in Liberia that brought Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to power late in 2005. The former World Bank official is Africa’s first elected female head of state.

Johnson-Sirleaf’s inauguration in Monrovia in January was attended by First Lady Laura Bush, who, with Frazer, applauded the new president’s commitment to reforming a government and economy in large part dismantled by the corrupt and bloody rule of Charles Taylor, who became president of the West African nation in 1997.

Taylor, the Washington File says, helped to destabilize the entire region, especially neighboring Sierra Leone where he backed a ferocious insurgency that chopped off people’s arms and legs. After considerable international pressure, Taylor agreed to go into exile in Nigeria in 2003. He has since been indicted for war crimes by the United Nations-sponsored war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone.

House Africa Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith (Republican of New Jersey) said that “the Taylor regime was a disaster for Liberia. Taylor and his government looted the treasury and Liberia’s natural resources. Taylor was also a catastrophe for his West African neighbors. Rebels who had been supported by Taylor have destabilized Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire,” according to Washington File.
Frazer agreed, saying Taylor “bears much of the responsibility for Liberia’s suffering,” adding that the United States consistently has called for Taylor to be brought before the Special Court in Sierra Leone.

Asked about the current legal status of Taylor, Frazer told lawmakers that “the only international obligation is that UNMIL (U.N. Mission in Liberia) arrest him and hand him over to the court. There is an agreement between Nigeria and Liberia for Nigeria to hand Taylor over to a duly elected government of Liberia once that government makes the request, she explained. But that is a matter of “policy” between the two nations and not the result of an international process.

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