Ex-warlords Mute On Verdict
Former Liberian warlords in Monrovia are largely hesitant to give their reactions to Thursday’s April 26, 2012 guilty verdict pronounced by the Special Court of Sierra Leone against ex-President Charles Taylor in The Hague.
Taylor was adjudged guilty on all 11 counts for criminally aiding and abetting rebels in Sierra Leone, who waged a 10-year vicious civil war that left thousands of civilians killed, and others most of them women and children, legs and arms brutally amputated.
He was indicted in 2003 for war crimes and crimes against humanity while attending peace conference in Accra, Ghana but returned to Liberia and subsequently resigned and went in exile to Nigeria.
However, the former Liberian President was extradited to Liberia few months after the inauguration of a democratically-elected government and immediately airlifted to Sierra Leone where he pleaded not guilty to the charges and subsequently transferred to The Hague, Netherlands. Attempts by this paper Thursday following the verdict to get reactions from several warlords about the final fate of the man they all bitterly fought was not very receptive.
When contacted via mobile phone, the leader of the disbanded rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) Sekou Damante Conneh, initially welcomed the interview, but when he was questioned on the verdict, he said, “I am not prepared to comment now, because I am in the midst of many people and secondly, this is a critical stuff that needs serious concentration before making any comment.” Conneh however promised to comment later.
For his part, Taylor’s main archrival Prince Johnson, who parted with him from the onset of the rebel invasion in early 1990 and commended his Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, said the verdict is about Sierra Leone and not Liberia.
“But my son, we can talk about the Taylor trial and verdict tomorrow; find me at my office and maybe I will be there to address the matter. Let me also say this to you. You the media guys should stop bothering people about Taylor this and Taylor that; we have many things to address than that”, said Johnson, now a Senator.
University of Liberia lecturer Professor Alhaji G.V. Kromah, who led a factional rebel group United Liberation Movement (ULIMO-K) against Taylor from 1992 to 97, said he was in a meeting and promised to call back within two minutes, but up to press time, he neither called nor responded to calls from this paper.
Taylor’s successor former Vice President Moses Z. Blah, who testified against him during the trial in The Hague could not be reached because his phone numbers were off.
However, speaking to the New Dawn on the verdict, defunct rebel Movement for Democracy in Liberia leader Thomas Yaya Nimely, said the prosecution and verdict of Taylor is a clear indication that the rebellion waged against the Taylor regime in 2003 was justified in the eyes of the international community.
“We brought war against his administration because of failed agenda and divisive politics”, he said.
According to him, the international community should redefine its role in dealing with African leaders or revolutionaries, who he noted, are often used to accomplish its political interest and then at the end of the day, they are hunted or prosecuted.
“The problem is not about Charles Taylor, but the West, who supports the wrong people at a time to achieve their dreams and at the same time knowing well the motive of that person”, Thomas, who currently resides in his home county, Grand Gedeh, added.
Most ordinary Liberians have received the verdict with mixed reactions with some feeling sad, while others believe justice has taken its course.