Charles Taylor Makes A Desperate Vice Presidential Choice
Tom Kamara
July 12, 2000

Evolving events in Liberia point to a terrible omen. In a mysterious and yet unexplainable manner, the Vice President with no known previous illness suddenly dies. Fingers are pointed to the President who threatens to "deal" with anyone that points accusing fingers at him. "Even if it (that he killed his Vice President) is said in a taxi, all occupants of such a taxi including the driver will be dealt with," he added, the AFP quoted the President as threatening.

And to the surprise of many, the promised autopsy report has not been released. Although the Government's Minister of Health declared the cause of death as heart attack even before the official autopsy could be undertaken, Taylor promised a full autopsy report which has yet to be known. In the wake of all this, there is a widespread belief in Liberia and among Liberians elsewhere that Taylor killed his Vice President. To counter this belief, Taylor first threatened "ferocity", meaning anyone who questioned how Dogolea died would follow him in death. Now, he has banned public discussion of the issue and threatened deadlier actions.

Further indicating the President's anger over spreading claims that he killed his Vice President, the AFP reported that the "Liberian President has denied 'nonsensical' claims he killed the late vice president Enoch Dogolea and warned that he will personally "deal with" anyone caught spreading rumours. "It is nonsensical to think that I killed Dogolea, considering the long-standing and intimate relationship that existed between us," the Liberian leader said.

The news agency further added that the President "said such rumours were the work of detractors trying to use the death of Dogolea to divide me and the people of Nimba Count", who stood beside him during the bitter days of the 1990s civil war. "This cannot happen," he said.

Despite these denials, the journalist Mark Huband, in his book The Liberian Civil War, says Dogolea was among 40 Nimba soldiers who protested to the Libyans the idea of Taylor as President. The Libyans, Huband says, later informed Taylor that Dogolea, a man who trained as a schoolteacher together with Taylor, was the author of the letter. Many believe Taylor had never forgiven Dogolea for that letter and only carried him as Vice President to win the Nimba vote (during the 1997 elections) and confidence for his first years in office.

Fresh reports, but yet unconfirmed reports, say Dogolea was ordered beaten to death by Taylor based on reports that he was planning a palace coup.

Following the Vice President's death, according to reports, a controversy ensued as to the place of his burial. The family wanted him buried in his home County of Nimba. The President wanted him buried in Monrovia. Why? Taylor, reports say, was afraid of traveling to Nimba, fearing a possible ambush. So his wish prevailed over that of the family. The man was buried in a "No-Man's-Land", Monrovia.

Now suddenly, Moses Z. Blah, Liberian ambassador to Libya and Tunisia has been named as the new Vice President, contrary to Taylor's promise that he was so aggrieved that a replacement for such a valuable man was not his priority, and that it would take him a month to consider Dogolea's replacement. Why?

But providence has a sway of solving problems. The current incursion by dissidents opposed to Taylor provides the short-term answer but long-term problems. Even if Taylor had not intended to name a Nimba man for the post, which is clearly the case according to Executive Mansion sources, insurgents now battling his troops to overthrow him have forced this decision. So he needs the Nimba fighting force to defeat the dissidents. The Nimba Commandos compose the largest sector of is rebel force. Without them, he is finished because the tiny group of fanatically power conscious now wealthy Americos around him are not capable of using the AK-47 in defending their newly acquired status. Their specialty is handling the Maritime business, logging, smuggled diamonds, and other money generating entities. Therefore, he needs a man from Nimba to maintain his position, and this person must not only be a Nimba person, but one from the Libyan graduate rebel school. This is necessary to convince the Nimba folks that "See, I am one of you. We must stick together."

But as he understandably pleases his Nimba base, he is isolating the rest of Liberia. The thought that Liberia has been divided between Americos and Nimba people is offensive, and politically dangerous for Nimba. On the other hand, who can Taylor trust to defend his grip on power? "The Devil you know"?

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