Charles Taylor

From Academic Kids

For other people named Charles Taylor, see Charles Taylor (disambiguation)
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Charles Taylor announces his resignation on Liberian TV, 2003

Charles Ghankay Taylor (born January 28, 1948) was the President of Liberia from 1997 to 2003. A prominent warlord in the Liberian Civil War of the early 1990s, he was subsequently elected president, but his time in office was marked by rebellion and regional conflict and he was forced into exile after another civil war.

Taylor was born in Arthington, a city near Monrovia. His father was Americo-Liberian; his mother was a member of the Gola tribe. Taylor was a university student in the United States from 1972 to 1977. He was briefly arrested in 1979 after threatening to take over the Liberian diplomatic mission in New York. He returned to Liberia in 1980.

Taylor was appointed by President Samuel Doe to run the General Services Agency but was arrested in Massachusetts, in the United States, when Doe accused him of embezzeling almost US$ 1 million. He remained in prison from May 1984 to September 1985 while awaiting extradition. He escaped prison and is thought to have gone to Libya.

In December 1989 Taylor launched an armed uprising from Cte d'Ivoire. Doe was soon overthrown, and tortured to death the following year by Prince Johnson, at that time an ally of Taylor's. Doe's fall led to the political fragmentation of the country into violent factionalism. In mid-1990, Prince Johnson's supporters split from Taylor's group and captured Monrovia for themselves, depriving Taylor of outright victory.

The civil war turned into an ethnic conflict, with seven factions fighting for control of Liberia's resources (especially iron ore, timber and rubber). Up to 200,000 people were killed and more than 1 million were forced from their homes.

After the official end of the civil war in 1996, Taylor became Liberia's president on August 2, 1997, following a landslide victory in July, in which he took 75% of the vote. The election was judged free and fair by observers, although Taylor's victory has been partially attributed to the belief that he would resume the war if he lost, and therefore many people may have voted for him simply to preserve peace. For example, his campaign song included the words "he killed my ma, he killed my pa, I'll vote for him."

Taylor supported the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group in Sierra Leone, during the 1990s, and has been accused of having perpetuated that war through his support for the RUF. During much of his term in office, Taylor was harshly criticised by Western governments and media, and according to one long-standing accusation, Taylor was involved in the trading of "blood diamonds."

In 1999, a rebellion against Taylor began in northern Liberia, led by a group calling itself Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). This group has been frequently accused of grave atrocities, and there is strong evidence that the group is allied with or controlled by the government of neighboring Guinea, which is in turn a regional ally of the United States.

In early 2003, as LURD was consolidating its control of northern Liberia, a second rebel group, called the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and allegedly backed by the Ivorian government, emerged in southern Liberia and achieved rapid successes. By the summer, Taylor's government controlled less than a third of Liberia.

In June 2003, a United Nations justice tribunal issued a warrant for Taylor's arrest, charging him with war crimes. The UN asserts that Taylor created and backed the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone, which is accused of a range of atrocities, including the use of child soldiers.

The indictment was issued at Taylor's official visit to Ghana. With the backing of South African president Thabo Mbeki, against the urging of Sierra Leone president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Ghanaian police failed to arrest Taylor, who returned to Monrovia.

During his absence for the peace talks in Ghana, it is alleged that the US urged the vice president, Moses Blah, to seize power. Upon his return, Taylor briefly dismissed Blah from his post, only to reinstate him a few days later. Meanwhile, the rebel group LURD initiated a siege of Monrovia, and several bloody battles were fought as Taylor's forces defeated rebel attempts to capture the city. The pressure on Taylor increased further as U.S. President George W. Bush stated that Taylor "must leave Liberia" twice in July 2003.

Taylor insisted that he would resign only if American peacekeeping troops were deployed to Liberia. The neighbouring nation of Nigeria also deployed dozens of troops to the country, and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo offered President Taylor safe exile in his country. On August 6, less than a dozen U.S. Marines were deployed as a liaison with the peacekeepers.

On August 10, Charles Taylor appeared on national television in Liberia to announce that he would resign the following day and hand power to the nation's vice president, Moses Blah. He harshly criticized the United States in his farewell address, saying that the Bush administration's insistence that he leave the country was a foolish policy that would hurt Liberia.

On August 11, Taylor resigned, leaving Moses Blah as his successor until a transitional government was established on October 14. At the handover were Ghanaian President John Kufuor, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, representing African regional councils. The U.S. brought three warships with 2,300 Marines into view of the coast. Taylor flew to Nigeria where the Nigerian government provided houses for him and his entourage in Calabar.

In November 2003, the United States Congress passed a bill that included a reward offer of two million dollars for Taylor's capture. While the peace agreement had guaranteed Taylor safe exile in Nigeria, it also required that he not attempt to influence Liberian politics, a requirement his critics claim he has disregarded. On December 4, Interpol issued a "red notice", suggesting that countries have the international right to arrest him. Taylor is now on Interpol's Most Wanted list, noted as possibly being dangerous, and is wanted for "crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention." However, Nigeria, which is currently holding Taylor, has stated that it will not submit to Interpol's demands, unless Liberia wants to try him; if so, Nigeria will return Taylor to Liberia for a fair trial.

On March 6, 2004, the United States presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council seeking a freeze of Taylor's assets, as well as those of his family and allies.


  • The Liberian Civil War by Mark Huband, 1998

External link

Preceded by:
Amos Sawyer
President of Liberia
Succeeded by:
Moses Blah

Template:End boxnl:Charles Taylor de:Charles Taylor (Liberia) ja:チャールズ・テーラー sv:Charles Taylor


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