France Urged To Break Links With Taylor And His Accomplices

By Ruth Nabakwe

Paris, France

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

March 27, 2003

A French Association which monitors Franco-Africa cooperation policy ''Survie'' (Survival) Tuesday in Paris urged the French authorities to dissociate itself from Liberian President Charles Taylor and his accomplices warning that Paris can no longer continue to use intolerable double language on matters of peace and democracy while at the same time have links with war merchants.

The Association which was reacting to the tensions in Côte d'Ivoire noted that the greatest danger today in the Ivorian crisis was on the Western side of the country which borders Liberia and where both the Ivorian Presidential camp and the Ivorian rebels had allowed interventions of hordes of other rebel factions from the Liberian and Sierra Leonian conflicts with each side of the Ivorian divide hoping to manipulate these factions in their favor.

Survie said these child soldiers from Liberia and Sierra Leone among them those who had already turned into adults are under no control.

Trained, let loose and rejuvenated since 1989 by Charles Taylor in complicity with Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, Muammar Kadhafi of Libya and a section of the subversive Françafrique network that undermines African stability, Survie said these bands of soldiers had intensified atrocities in the West of Côte d'Ivoire.

Among them, Survie cited Sam Bockerie who faces charges in his country Sierra Leone that range from murder, rape, exterminations, acts of barbarity, plunder, sexual slavery as well as forced enrolment of children in their ranks.

Survie President François Xavier Verschave hit out at France charging that Paris as well as her army which was engaged in a peace keeping exercise expected to enable Côte d'Ivoire retrace the steps back to democracy could no longer use double language.

"She, [Paris] can no longer be contented to denounce the reality of crimes in Gbagbo's camp and his auxiliaries [in the conflict], without denouncing with at least as much force, the alliance between the rebels and the hordes belonging to Taylor, this lord of war who has subdued his country through terror and hardly ceases to export his methods," Verchave decried.

But the Survie President noted that for Paris to break links with Taylor would , " induce an agonizing" thought for Paris. Seen from a wider context such agony sprung from what Survie described as the Françafrique network's involvement of more than 13 years of trafficking in the West Africa sub-region.

Survie cited trafficking in timber, diamonds and other raw materials that went on the region in exchange for arms and mercenaries in the service of criminals against human rights.

The French Association said those involved in these trafficking further benefited from protection and today these illegal deals were contributing towards arming the Ivorian rebels.

Despite these shady business deals with monumental negative human consequences for African populations Survie complained that Charles Taylor remained "persona grata" in Paris where France was his advocate against the UN sanction.

"[French President] Jacques Chirac has hardly made up his mind about distancing himself from his old ally [Taylor]," Survie observed.

But the Association seemed to understand the reason why Paris appeared hesitant on distancing itself from Taylor when it stated that Paris could not be motivated to do so because the United States, for a long time hostile to Taylor is said to be supporting the LURD rebellion which is, according to Survie, worth no better.

But Survie demanded nonetheless that Paris must choose:

It said either, Paris must continue to perpetuate shameful alliances, underhand tricks and be a sort of CIA underneath in a sterile Franco-American rivalry with the risk of prolonging the sufferings of the Liberian people, spreading an abominable war in the West of Côte d'Ivoire and as a result induce a Bush support to the war mongers in Gbagbo's camp -

Or that Paris must do what it always says- that is, support the growth of peace in Africa and encourage her army which has the mandate of the UN in Côte d'Ivoire to demonstrate zero tolerance against atrocities of any of the Liberian band of rebels.

The Survie Association President who described President Taylor as a criminal out of the ordinary further said that Paris must also show her diplomacy dissociated from Taylor as well as denounce his accomplices.

The French Association which enjoys wide support among the African community in France for its steadfast struggle against African corrupt dictators and their Western backers recalled that during the recent France -Africa summit held in the French capital Paris French President Chirac had denounced arm traffickers, illicit trade and the plunder of Africa's resources while the French Foreign ministry constantly denounces these illegal practices notably in the Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in West Africa.

But for Survie there was need for Paris to go beyond denouncing these crimes and name the criminals involved in these deals.