Charles Taylor Rejects UN Deployment and Sankoh's Trial
August 9, 2000

President Charles Taylor has again rejected any attempt by the United Nations to try Foday Sankoh, leader of the Sierra Leone's rebel Revolutionary United Front. In a prepared statement, Taylor also rejected any "massive" deployment of UN troops in the beleaguered country.

Describing allegations of diamond smuggling against him as "false", Taylor said moves by the UN to try Sankoh and those responsible for abuses were "premature". He repeated his previous argument that trying "one party to the conflict while the country is infested with arms could be a misjudgment of the solution. If trials have to occur, then a full investigation of all parties to the conflict must be carried out in a free, fair and transparent manner following the disarmament and demobilization process.

"Carrying out trials of leaders of any of the warring parties while their supporters remain fully armed is not only a disincentive for cease-fire, disarmament and demobilization, but could lead to tribal, social and political backlash long after the war has ended", he said.

The Liberian President, who had previously offered to dispatch his own peacekeeping troops to Sierra Leone, warned that the "UN not get involved in a war in Sierra Leone, given the negative experience it has encountered in Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, and the Congo. The UN has to live up its reputation as a neutral and friendly force. The conflict will not and can not be resolved through the deployment of a massive military force, apparently un-impartial".

He also repeated his demand for "an immediate cease-fire in Sierra Leone, a return to the original line as of the signing of the Lome Agreement, on July 7, 1999, demobilization and disarmament of all factions in the Sierra Leonean conflict".

Taylor's response is apparently in reaction to American threats of sanctions if the Liberian Government fails to reverse its policy in Sierra Leone and stop the arming of the RUF. His policy statement, however, contains no new material or proposals, and it is difficult to determine the reactions from the Americans and the British. He has previously rejected any trial of Sankoh and other RUF leaders, along with British involvement in their former colony.

"He is simply telling Washington to go to hell", said an Opposition politician from Monrovia.

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