Taylor's Indictment Crucial To Peace

Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Akosombo, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 14, 2003

The mediator on the Liberian peace process Gen. Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar has spoken of the need for Liberian and international stakeholders to critically discuss and factor out a way over the indictment of President Charles Taylor if the attainment of peace to Liberia must be successful.

Gen. Abubakar told journalists in Akosombo yesterday that the indictment of the Liberian leader came at a wrong time, and as such, had served as a stumbling block to achieving peace in Liberia, especially from the ongoing conference.

The former Nigerian leader maintained if the best way out were to seek the lifting of the indictment on President Charles Taylor, they would certainly pursue that course.

“Whether we like it or not we have to address this issue of indictment if at all we are going to move forward,” he maintained.

The UN-backed War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone recently indicted the Liberian leader and subsequently issued an arrest warrant for his alleged support to the rebels Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The Court said President Taylor and his alleged RUF collaborators bear the “greatest responsibility” for war crimes against humanity. The Liberian Chief Executive has consistently denied any involvement in the Sierra Leonean war.

The RUF is globally credited for hijacking the limbs and the maiming of thousands of people in Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil melee.

Already, President Taylor on Thursday, warned that there would be no peace in Liberia unless his indictment was lifted. “ if there is any unceremonious departure, there will be a bloodbath there,” he said.

But the War Crimes Tribunal is poised not to rescind its decision of apprehending the Liberian leader, noting, “the Liberian president Charles Taylor must still be arrested.”

Tom Peeriello, acting spokesperson for the persecutor’s office is quoted as saying, “all war crimes indictees must be delivered to the Special Court, including Charles Taylor. "

The UN Security Council has expressed support for the work of the Special Court, especially its recent statement regarding indictment. The Council members expressed the need to ensure that both peace and justice are achieved in the region.

President Charles Taylor’s indictment by the Court has drawn him at the center of controversy, especially amongst Liberian stakeholders attending the Akosombo peace negotiations in Ghana.

The controversial issue has created blocs among the 18 Liberian political parties, with majority of them diametrically opposing suggestions that the political parties should appeal to the Special Court through the UN Security Council to drop the criminal charges against President Charles Taylor.

The opposing group has contended that the issue of indictment is more legal than political, and as such, transcends the jurisdiction of the political parties. Moreover, they argued that the president should expedite his decision by stepping aside owing to the indictment and in the interest of the Liberian people.