From Fugitive to President to Fugitive

By Tom Kamara / © The New Democrat

Fate, some believe, is inescapable. So it is with Liberia’s now fugitive president, Charles Taylor, who must be reminded of this when he fled, like a thief he has been all his life, from justice. For Liberians, whatever their political colouring, this is a day of shame exacerbated, since the shame has been there from the day Cote d’Ivoire opened its doors for Liberia’s destruction. Now it is Ghana extending the gallows for Liberians.

For Charles Taylor, the best option now is a Kamikaze. But he has no honour for this Japanese act of honour—taking one’s life to avoid dishonour and shame to oneself and family. So he has opted to live and die in dark and dangerous Monrovia all to escape justice. The world is now too confined for him. Ghana is only one country from which he can escape justice. Anywhere else is forbidden ground.

In the 1980s, he “escaped” from a Boston federal prison to commence his horrors in West Africa. His crime then was minor—stealing about one million dollars from a corrupt military junta. His war project, which has placed West African as a leading humanitarian centre, handsomely rewarded him, mainly because Africa is treated as the world’s icon when it comes to application of the standards of justice.

His was a glorious rise, which many world notables greeted with satisfaction and accolades. Some US Democrats, in particular, were happy they have discovered their African shinning star. Here is a man who, in the words of the African-American Congressman Donald Payne, knew both worlds—America, where he was a gas station attendant, and Liberia, where he became president after perhaps Africa’s bloodiest war in which 250,000 were killed and thereafter 100,000 killed in Sierra Leone. His lawyer, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, was one of the happy fans. He said from the moment he meant he met Taylor, he knew he was smart. Smart, indeed. For how else should one appraise a man who launched West Africa’s most destabilising war, crossing borders for diamonds, recruiting child soldiers, amputating limbs, raping, and killing?

It would come to pass that a rose, called by any other name, would always be a rose. Charles Taylor, US Democrats leader for African continental leadership, is back as a world’s leading fugitive. In the 1990s, he was a fugitive of what the western acclaimed writer, Robert Kaplan calls one of the countries at “Ends of the Earth’’. Now he is a UN fugitive, thanks to the Ghanaians, perhaps West Africa’s smoothest operators. They have allowed him to elude UN arrest.

The Ghanaian have just extended their hanging ropes to Liberia which they threw since their evil role as “peacekeepers” in Liberia under West African troops ECOMOG. It was under Ghana’s ECOWAS chairmanship that the theory of the “straight jacket’’ was declared. What followed were a series of conspiracies that saw Taylor as President. The Ghanaians secretly disarmed ethnic Krahns for Taylor’s slaughter in 1998. Before that, the Ghanaian commander, Gen. Quinooo, supevrsied the capture and slaughter of Doe. In 1995, after failing to impose their version of peace on Liberians, they connived with Taylor and threw hoodlums in the streets of an already volatile city as means of intimidation. In 1997, to ensure that Taylor wins the elections, they sent in their state buses for the campaign. In victory, Taylor turned over the Ministry of Finance and the port to them.

The Sierra Leone Court must have believed the Ghanaians would actually do the honourable thing and follow international law. But David Crane, the prosecutor, is not familiar with a typical Ghanaian mind. They are ruthless in smoothness.

In the end, however, the Ghanaians have poured in more petrol into the Liberian inferno. Taylor the fugitive in Monrovia now means war in Monrovia. The rebels could never have asked for a better justification to go after the fugitive. He is no longer a president with whom to negotiate. He is an international fugitive wanted for crimes. This means Monrovia, sitting on the volcano as the Council of Churches recently declared, is about to explode. Ghana will be held responsible for tjhis and more, for if the Ghanaian government had helped Taylor escape, an interim regime would have been formed in Monrovia to invite the rebels for talks, disarm, open the road for people to return home, and begin solving the problems. But Ghana has done it again. Now, however, Taylor is a fugitive, making any war against him legitimate. He has met his fate.

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added by: Robert W. Kranz  June-2003