Liberian Government Calls for Calm Ahead of Taylor Verdict


James Butty

The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague is expected to deliver its verdict Thursday against former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

He is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the Sierra Leone civil war which ended in 2003.

Mr. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to all charges, dismissing them as "lies" and claiming to be the victim of a plot by "powerful countries."

In advance of the verdict, the Liberian government Wednesday issued a statement urging Liberians to remain calm and peaceful.

The statement reaffirms the government’s confidence in the international justice system and said it believes the outcome would be accepted by all Liberians “irrespective of our differences”.

Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua said the atmosphere in Liberia is tense with celebrations being planned both for Mr. Taylor’s possible acquittal and guilty verdict.

“There is mixed reaction and mixed feelings in the country, and it seems that there are very many people who believe that Mr. Taylor is going to be acquitted. There is also a section of the country that believes that certainly he should be found guilty and punished for the crimes he might have committed in Sierra Leone,” he said.

Quaqua said Taylor still has many supporters in Liberia.

He said the Liberian government’s statement Wednesday urging Liberians to remain calm and peaceful is in response to the public’s expectation of the expected verdict.

“I think what is coming out of the public I’m sure is what the government is responding to. From all indications, we have a segment of the society that this gearing up for celebrations either for or against the acquittal of Mr. Taylor. And therefore I’m sure the government is watching that knowing the kind of person Mr. Taylor is or was in Liberia, probably the government is trying to exercise precaution by calling on citizens to remain calm,” he said.

Nigerian authorities arrested Taylor in March 2006 when he tried to flee from exile in Nigeria after stepping down as Liberian president three years earlier in a negotiated end to a civil war in his own country.

He was transferred to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown, but in June 2006 a UN Security Council resolution cleared the way for him to be transferred to The Hague, saying his presence in West Africa was an "impediment to stability and a threat to the peace."

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Monrovia October 7, 2011
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Monrovia October 7, 2011
Some Liberians believe it was President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who gave her blessing for Taylor to be taken to the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Quaqua said some Liberians also believe President Sirleaf was pressured by some Western powers.

“There are those who believe that Liberia especially had little option because America and the West, especially the international community had put pressure on the government to ensure that Mr. Taylor was handed over,” he said.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs