Who decides in Liberia

By Deh Suah

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 4, 2003

The Liberian embattled President Charles Taylor has, for the first time almost within two decades publicly, given a definite date and time that he shall resign from office: 11th of August 2003 (11:59 AM) and turn over office to possibly his vice president - who most be sworn in immediately after his resignation. The news is laudable yet there is a need to remain cautious knowing Mr. Taylor's chameleon behavior whenever it comes to backing his promises with action. The promise contains loopholes and leaves several case scenarios possible.

Why if Taylor resigns the time indicated and his successor is not sworn in 12.00 noon? A fake coup could possibly be staged by his loyalist fighters and Taylor could be asked to take over the affairs of the country. Alternatively, his former rebels comrades now law makers could ask the 'former' President to temporarily govern the country because of leadership vacuum. Who should decide what happens after Taylor left the scene? The Liberian people and the Constitution of Liberia but not the disgraced President who is urging that 'a new guy must be sworn immediately after he turns of power'.

Another possible scenario is General pardon for the President. Article 59 of the Liberian constitution states that 'the President may remit any public forfeiture and penalties, suspend any fines, and sentences, grant reprieves and pardons, and restore civil rights after conviction for all public offences, except impeachment'. Unfortunately, the rubber stamp Liberian senate has, despite national and international outcry against Charles Taylor, refused to impeach him. What shall happen if his successor grants him pardon under constitutions provision? Taylor would not be obliged to leave for exile.

Therefore, Mr. Taylor should be pressurized like in the case of his resignation, to publicly state the date and time of his departure from Liberia to Nigeria, where his brother in-law, President Obassanjo, offered to grant him sanctuary and immunity from war crime persecution. The Liberian people would not bother you, now, Mr. President, if you took your stolen wealth and leave Liberia to join 'phantom of brutal tyrants'. Your presence in Liberia only gives the rebels more ammunitions to carry on their onslaught on innocent Liberians and allows President George Bush to procrastinate the deployment of U. S. troops in Liberia.