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Following The Issue

Yes, I’m the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia

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After re-working on “Is This the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia?” and publishing it last Wednesday, I went home and lay on my bed prone. Soon, I was arrested; neither by officers of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of Liberia nor by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, but by that natural, invisible arresting officer we call sleep.

After my arrest, I found myself in a dreamy world. It looked like the court setting in The Hague. I saw Taylor reading my article. Then he paused the reading, laid the New Dawn newspaper on the desk before him and started a monologic presentation – his response to my article.

Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia. I went to college in the United States. I have a master’s degree in economics. You could call me a pro-democracy advocate. Remember I was once the President of the Union of Liberia Associations in America (ULAA). I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

If you will recall, I returned to Liberia in the 1970’s, and when the 1980 coup occurred, I found myself as Director General of the General Services Agency (GSA). You remember? I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

Following some allegation from the Samuel Doe government that I stole about US$1m under the pretext that I was purchasing some machines/equipment from some non-existent Earth Removing Equipment Company in the US. Doe and his government started some extradition litigation against me. In the process, I was imprisoned at a correction center in Massachusetts, Boston, USA. I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

I was in my little cell in Boston when some arrangement – arrangement made by powerful and well-connected individuals and institutions – was put in place for me to be released for some scheme they wanted me to execute for them. This is what such individuals and institutions have done all the time, causing setbacks, suffering and death for scores of people – sometimes a whole nation.

Of course, they will tell you that I broke jail. Do you believe that? Anyway, what I wish to point out is that I am the same Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

[Taylor was gesticulating as he spoke, causing the eyeglasses on his face to drop to the edge of his nose, almost falling from there. He paused, repositioned his glasses and stared at the New Dawn newspaper before continuing his monologic presentation.]

They sent me to Africa with the sole purpose of deposing the Doe government, thereby destabilizing the country in the process. Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

To consummate the process, I passed through a few countries, including Ghana and Sierra Leone. I also temporarily settled in, or befriended the military and the political leaders of, some countries, including Libya, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast. Yes, I am the Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

I am the one under whose leadership the NPFL war was launched in Liberia, by way of the Liberian border town called Butuo. It was on December 24, 1989. Remember? Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

Believe me. Launching that war was a very difficult undertaking. Two things helped me. Generally speaking, the Liberian people were tired of Doe and his government. Second, I had the support of many powerful individuals and institutions, individuals and institutions that had interest in what I was doing or had interest in something they had seen in Liberia. I even got military and political advice, trained fighters, arms and ammunition and some other logistical support from either those individuals or their countries. That’s why there were Ivoirians, Burkinbes and other nationals fighting for the NPFL during the war. Let me restate. I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

Look, when I agreed to head the NPFL, when I bravely accepted to lead that difficult venture of overthrowing President Doe and his government by way of arms, I did it because I, too, had some interest in the process. Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay of Liberia.

Now, hear this. There were some other Liberians who had political interest in the undertaking – they wanted to be this and be that in any government formed after the overthrow of Doe, with some presenting and positioning themselves as the president-in-waiting, but they were scared to lead the most difficult aspect – the military part. They wanted me to risk my life and my future, while they sat in their cozy homes in the United States and other places, and just come after everything and be given authority. Like the late Gaddafi, I call them cock roaches. They thought they had seen a fool to use. I knew them well. I knew their games and tricks and how they had played them over the years. I was prepared for them and their games. I said to myself, “Do these people think I am stupid?” I, too, was interested in becoming president in the process. Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

[Taylor paused for a few seconds, looked at the audience and looked at the newspaper article. He was furious, and the furiousness was not hidden. But it also seemed he was not using his anger to scribe the elimination of real and perceived enemies, but to tell a true story.]

I waged the rebel war against Doe and his government, determined to depose him and end his ten-year despotic rule. Yes, I am the one who said “The only good Doe is a dead Doe.” Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

I controlled the largest and strongest rebel group in Liberia. I had the most strategized rebel operation in Liberia. I had the most popular rebel group in Liberia. Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor who vehemently opposed the intervention of the military men and women of the Economic Community of West African Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), militarily attacking them on the high sea, even before their landing on the soil of Liberia. I fought them for years. Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

When the news about the formation of an interim government was heard in 1990, especially considering the games and tricks of the Liberian politicians who wanted me to fight in the jungle of Liberia while they discuss and divide political positions, I declared that there would be no interim government that I, Charles Gahankay Taylor, would not be the head of. Yes, I am the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

[Taylor paused again, blew his nose in the white handkerchief in his left hand and glanced at the new Dawn newspaper article, “Is This the Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia?”]

To be continued…
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.

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