News

Liberian Government Calls for Calm Ahead of Taylor Verdict

Multimedia

Audio
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.
Comments
     
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs