President Clinton Slams Door
on Charles Taylor and Company
George H. Nubo
October 12, 2000
Yesterday, the U.S. State Department issued a press statement "suspending the entry into the United States, as immigrants and non-immigrants, of all persons and [their] spouses, children, and parents of all persons - who plan, engage in, or benefit from activities that support the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), or that otherwise impede the peace process in Sierra Leone."
According to the statement, "these visa restrictions will immediately apply to President Charles Taylor, senior members of the Government of Liberia, their closest supporters, and their family members."
The statement calls "upon the Liberian government to end immediately Liberia's trafficking in weapons and illicit diamonds, which fuels the war in Sierra Leone, and instead to use its influence with the RUF to restore peace and stability to Sierra Leone. Members of my Administration have repeatedly made this request of President Taylor. The absence of any positive response from his government leaves us little choice but to impose these restrictions. Only when the Government of Liberia ends its participation in activities that support the RUF will the United States review this policy."
The latest move by the U. S. government is a blow to the Taylor government. Taylor has been using government officials as surrogates to lobby in the US and to raise funds on his behalf. His government recently announced a PR blitz which targets U.S government officials and a blacklisting campaign aimed at exiled Liberians.
Having appointed himself general services agency director in the Doe regime, Taylor robbed Liberia of one million U.S. dollars. He ran away from Liberia but was caught in Boston for extradition to face trial in Liberia. Taylor broke out of jail and headed for Africa. With the help of Libya, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast, Taylor invaded Liberia, setting the basis to destabilize West Africa. The ensuing civil war in Liberia claimed the lives of 250,000 people including five innocent American nuns. Realizing that Taylor was the only warlord with the capacity to end their horrors, Liberians desperate for peace had to vote between life and death. Understandably, they opted to vote for life which meant a vote for Taylor.
On October 13, 1998, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a Notice of Nolle Prosequi signed by the District Attorney, Michael J. Sullivan, and First Assistant District Attorney Joseph P. Gaughan. They claimed that the notice was predicated on a request from the State Department. According to the notice, the State Department had "requested in the interest of harmonious relations between the United States and Liberia, that this charge be dismissed against Charles Taylor."
By dropping the charges, Mr. Taylor scored a big victory which gave him a reprieve to demonstrate that he was prepared to enter the international community. But instead, he considered it as a license to do more by aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise designed to destabilize the West African sub-region. And that license meant more terrors, amputation of limbs of Sierra Leoneans, overt support of the RUF, continued diamond smuggling, and gunrunning. But President Clinton napped through the terror because he depended on people like the Rev. Jackson (a friend of President Taylor) as his African point man.
One area of particular concern to the U. S. has been Mr. Taylor's involvement in the Sierra Leone crisis, especially his role in using Liberia as a conduit for providing arms to the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds. It can be recalled that a few months ago, the U. S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Mr. Thomas Pickering, visited Liberia to warn Mr. Taylor of the danger the trade of diamonds-for-arms was posing to the stability of the region, and the consequences that Mr. Taylor and his government could bear were it not stopped.
But not paying heed to this warning from the United States, and then the United Kingdom which has been at the forefront in the advocacy of a war crimes tribunal, Mr. Taylor continued to dilly-dally, testing the resolve of the U. S. and the international community. Despite reported overwhelming evidence linking him to the RUF and the trade in diamonds-for-arms, Mr. Taylor continued to engage in denials.
But this aside, there has been an ongoing campaign of harassment
and intimidation of the U.S. Ambassador accredited to Liberia,
Mr. Bismack Myrick and other U. S. nationals. It was not too
long ago when the chairman of the National Patriotic Party (NPP),
Mr. Cyril Allen, threatened to arrest the U.S. Ambassador. And
just recently, a Liberian legislator, Mr. Thomas Nimley, charged
that the ambassador's presence had no real impact on the lives
of the Liberian people and called for his leaving the country.