Liberia Will Make History on August 11, 2003

By Winsley S. Nanka

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 6, 2003

Never before in the history of Africa have the concerted efforts of the international community and the citizens of a country force a sitting dictator out of office. August 11, 2003 will be an important date in the history of Africa, indeed Liberia in two respects:

First, Charles G. Taylor, Liberia’s most ruthless leader will be forced to abandon the rulership of Liberia. Second, August 11, 2003 would be warnings to closet Liberian dictators that never again will Liberians sit silently while a few groups of people throw Liberia into chaos. August 11, 2003 would also put future Liberian dictators on notice that whenever they commit atrocities, they will be deposed.

August 11, 2003 will not be happening by accident. It took three United Nations Security Council resolutions; indictment by the Sierra Leone United Nations backed war crimes tribunal, exposure of the brutalities committed by Taylor and his cronies by human rights organizations, and the will power of US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to demand that Taylor leaves office immediately.

Most importantly, Taylor is being deposed because of relentless efforts by The Perspective newsmagazine and its cadets of contributing writers; and other Liberian Internet media outlets, the courageous efforts of Liberian journalist Hassan Bility, human rights lawyer Taiwan Gongloe and human rights advocate Aloysius Toe - just to name a few. It also took immense contributions by the religious community in Liberia and the blood of many innocent Liberians who withstood relentless assault on their persons by Charles G. Taylor and his criminal gang. August 11, 2003 would also be possible because of LURD and Model, two terrorist groups that rendered Taylor militarily impotent.

Finally, Taylor’s removal from office would not have been possible if not for the Internet. The Internet created the medium for Liberians and human rights advocates to document human rights abuses committed by the brutal Liberian dictator and disseminate the information to the international community in almost real time.

However, there are skeptics who believe that history will not be made on August 11, 2003. These skeptics say history serves as their guide. They point to the 1990s when Taylor signed numerous peace agreements and reneged on those agreements minutes after signing them. As an example, the skeptics point to the fact that Taylor keeps shifting his positions by the day since he announced his intent to resign in June.

While the skeptics may have a point, the circumstances are different. During the 1990s, Taylor had the resources of Liberia at his disposal, a large part of Liberia under his control and the backing of several countries in the West African Sub-region. Today, Taylor does not have the luxury to stonewall indefinitely. He does not have control over the resources of Liberia. His compatriots in terror, LURD and Model, have limited him to Monrovia and Paynesville. He does not have supporters in the sub-region like before. Importantly, his indictment by the war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone leaves him with little options.

If Taylor resigns and refuses to leave Liberia as he is hinting, he makes himself susceptible to arrest by the West African /United Nations intervention forces that will control Liberia in the near future. One way or the other, Taylor will pay for his crimes in Liberia and the Mano River basin.

Whatever happens on August 11, 2003, the most important thing that Liberians should find comforting is they have out last Taylor and his cronies. The lesson to future Liberian dictators is no level of brutalities will minimize Liberians’ quest for freedom anymore. Anyone who stands in the way of the Liberian people’s desire for democracy, justice, and the rule of law will meet his/her fate like Charles G. Taylor.