Taylor Claims Opposition "Part of Attacks"

The Perspective

February 20, 2001

As tension mounts between Liberia and Guinea with counter accusations, coupled with prospects of sanctions, President Charles Taylor, warning Liberians against contemplating "People Power" for his removal, has accused the Opposition of backing armed attacks against Government. The warning and allegations came after reports of plans for mass demonstration in the capital to remove the regime blamed for regional destabilization and hyper economic mismanagement and corruption.

At a program organized recently by his partisans to show support against UN Panel of Experts report implicating him in diamonds-for-guns trade and regional destabilization, Taylor, in an emotionally charged tune, said opposition members who have not publicly condemned armed incursions against his Government "are part of the attacks. You've got to be part of the attacks [because] if you do not condemn (the attacks) when Liberia is attacked, you are part of the attacks. You think you can [stage?] yourself viciously and hide yourself and then encourage people to come on the streets to cause trouble"

The former warlord threatened, "We know that some of them are pumping children to come in the street [for] what they call People Power. But People Power [is] with us. We have the people. I am telling you today. You know my word is good. We will come for you who [is] causing the trouble We will leave the people on the street and we will find you in your ma womb. We coming for you I want to make it very clear," he thundered as supporters cheered.

He warned the public against participating in demonstrations against his Government, declaring that they should leave him to deal with the Opposition. "When you see us on the high, you must say oh, the way Ghanky on this matter, may be there is something we don't know, because the thing under it [is] heavy", he said as the military band roared in the background. He accused students at the university of Liberia, traditionally opposed to his rebel movement and Government, of being influenced by "Marxist-Leninist" ideas because they questioned the depletion of the rain forests as proceeds go towards arms.

Amidst cheers from supporters including members of the legislature and the cabinet, Taylor accused the Opposition of planning "trouble and to demonstrate and vandalize" As a testament of its democratic credentials, he said Liberia was free of political prisoners and that unlike other African countries, there were no journalists in prison.

Observers believe the warnings were largely directed at former interim President Amos Claudius Sawyer who was severely flogged by ex-NPFL rebels and his pro-democracy offices vandalized. Sawyer and some members of his staff have since left the country.

Taylor said the men who attacked Sawyer were sent by "he and I... He and myself sent them." He accused the Opposition of tying up aid for his Government. "How can you love this country, if you don't want to support this Government?" He then urged the Opposition to leave the capital Monrovia and return to their rural homes to establish "their NGOs", he said in reference to Sawyer's Center for Democratic Empowerment. "But you cannot love this country and the people that you want to vote for you when you deny them assistance under the guise of saying you are hurting the Government of Charles Ghanky Taylor", he told cheering loyalists.

Although Taylor himself never built a house in Liberia until he became President after a war he ignited that resulted in economic ruins and the killing of 250,000 people, he accused unnamed members of the Opposition of "living in their ma houses" and yet wanting to be president. Despite recently declaring that his wealth, estimated at $4.6b, is gift "from friends," and there is "open system of wealth accumulation in this country", he told cheering believers, "I own nothing outside of this countryThis revolution is my lifeThe people of this country are my daily problem, to make sure that young men and women live in an atmosphere" He did not state which atmosphere as supporters cheered in the background.

He accused the UN Panel of Experts report of lying, adding that, "There are people now that can turn white to black and black to white", he thundered as his people cheered. He said the UN should confiscate any money or bank account linked to him.

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