Are we still mischievous?

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 13, 2002

It was not too long ago when the President of Liberia, in his usual macho manner, responding to opposition and dissent, said that he was the "most mischievous" person in the country. The president seems to have never understood that there are certain basic rules that one must go by once one gets in the chair of the presidency of a nation of human beings who have their dignity and humanity to maintain at all times and above all else. When you are president you are not allowed to speak and act carelessly and you cannot pocket the national wealth with impunity.

A history of mischief
In many ways, Taylor was reminded from the start of his war that Liberia was not a planet apart where a king reigned supreme over a land cut to his size. When he threatened to flattened Monrovia back in 1990, he was stopped right at the University campus, across from the Mansion and kicked all the way back to Gbarnga. Contrary to what some people continue to believe, it was not Dr. Amos C. Sawyer who called off the ECOMOG offensive it was the Ghana military that threatened to leave the peacekeeping force if the offensive was not stopped. Ghana was working closely with Libya at times and this tenuous relationship hampered the work of ECOMOG.

Again, in 1992, he launched Octopus against Monrovia, with the Senegalese military contingent still angry at the lost of their men in Vahun and the Guineans ever eager to kick Taylor out of the region, ECOMOG made great strides against the NPFL. Again, Ghana threatened to leave ECOMOG. Some prominent Liberians and Americans got the United Nations involved in the peace process and brought the famous Gordon Somers.

After April 1996, many countries in ECOWAS were asking that all warlords be banned from taking part in the political process and went as far as suggesting that they all be put on trial or at least kept in villas in Abuja with their entourage. The same "peacemakers" who had saved Taylor, saved him again. Money, "morale" and the arrogance of the man who got rid of Samuel Doe were part of the aura that got Taylor and others off the hook. Cash in an impoverished West Africa helped paved the way to the Mansion. In all of this Liberians had little to say about the peace process. It was one capital after another, ECOWAS chairmen taking turn to be Liberian presidents by proxy, with many surrogate parents popping up here and there in the process. All along, Taylor kept his arrogance, derived from his ruthlessness and his ability to corrupt.

Now, after five years in power, sitting alone in Monrovia, abandoned by his friends and no longer even ceremoniously invited by neighbors, his "pepper bush" shrinking daily and nobody listening to him, the president may start to wonder if, indeed, he is still the most mischievous person of the land. One may also wonder if he still got the same bravado and gusto he pretends to have. Certain things come back to haunt.

The new sanctions on the government coupled with the advances of LURD show that everybody in the world has reached the conclusion that West Africa will be better off without a president like ours. If public relations money could have saved the regime, the sanctions would have never been renewed. And if the international community ever believed there was a chance to salvage the Taylor administration, someone would have put a stop to the incursion of LURD, wherever they may be coning from. The accusations against Guinea and Sierra Leone seemed to have fallen into deaf ears the world over.

There is a new dynamic in Africa. That new trend is lost on Taylor, a man still buried in stupid nostalgia, incapable of realizing that he is not Tubman and that Liberia has gone through Tolbert, Doe, two dead presidents buried in mass graves and 250,000 lost lives in a senseless war. The West African sub-region has paid excessively for peace in Liberia and wishes not to continue to bail him out anymore. There is a limit to everything and Taylor has now reached his limit. It would be a waste of time and paper to go on to talk about the problems facing Liberia. But does the country need another president in a mass grave?

Taylor needs help getting out of Liberia and Liberians, for the sake of their country, must join together and offer him an exit. Let him take his cash and his trusted buddies to Libya or Burkina Faso or wherever. The country does not need another bloodshed and Monrovia certainly cannot take another war. Any decent person living even in Taylor household must now have realized that there is nothing more to expect from this man. Some people can be president and others can't, and Taylor, whatever the reasons may be, has failed to live up to the task. Liberians must now unite to save the country. It is a choice between Liberia and the obsession of one man for power and money.

Sometimes, the demise of one man can save a nation and many lives and recent history has shown us the cases of Idi Amin in Uganda, Sani Abacha in Nigeria and Savimbi in Angola. Taylor has many choices and he can be a Savimbi, a Foday Sankoh or a Idi Amin. Liberians and friends of Liberia have an obligation to help him make a wise choice for his own good. He needs help for the sake of the millions of Liberia waiting for the end of his terror.

The way forward would be:

Many may say that the NPP government was "democratically elected," they need to be told that it is being "democratically overthrown" to save the country. There are many decent people in the legislature and judiciary who can help put a salvation process together. It is time to say goodbye to the most mischievous man in the country. He has served his time. For the sake of Liberians and millions of West Africans, Taylor needs help to find an exit.

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