Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

The Last Dance For Taylor?
It looks like Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has decided the time to get Charles Taylor to the Special Court in Sierra Leone may be now. Of course, we have seen various steps in this dance before, and ultimately Taylor remains in Nigeria and justice is thawarted. I am not overly optimistic the case will be different this time.

However, there are some important changes from the past. Various press reports tell of Nigerian president Obasanjo and South African president Mbeki meeting to discuss handing Taylor over to the Special Court. Today, the Liberian government officially acknowledged for the first time that Liberia was looking for a way to extradite Taylor from his luxurious exile in Calabar, Nigeria.

In a statement issued in Monrovia, the Liberian government said that it, in conjunction with Nigeria, it is seeking a solution that will be "acceptable to the international community, the United Nations and at the same time guarantee the rights of Mr. Taylor's under international law."

In a demonstration of just how well connected Taylor remains in some quarters of the Obasanjo administration, it was Taylor's spokesman, Sylvester Paasewe, who initially said that Liberia has made an extradition request. He stated, erroneously, that Taylor's assylum agreement, which Taylor has so far violated with impunity, precludes him standing trial for his crimes against humanity, terrorist connections with al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and looting of the Liberian national treasury.

But it is worth noting who first went public with the information, which one would think was being handled out of the public eye until are resolution is reached. Taylor's (sometimes) estranged wife Jewell, now a member of Liberian Congress, also went public with news of the extradition request.

West African leaders have long said that they must take the lead in dealing with Taylor and other regional crises. Now is the time that will put to the test whether, in the changing world, big men on the continent continue to protect each other, or whether there is finally a glimmer of hope in ending the long and debilitating cycle of impunity that has helped condemn the region to poverty, war, disease and dispair. The final dance steps remain to be finished.
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