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Vol 40 No 2

Published 22nd January 1999


Liberia

West Africa, according to Mr Taylor

Charles Taylor and his ally, Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaoré, are undermining peace in the region – and they have more plans

Among others, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Britain and the United States believe Liberian President Charles Taylor has trained and armed the brutally effective rebels of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Mr. Taylor at tedious length on Radio France Internationale and the BBC. He insists that since his landslide election victory in July 1997, he has been working tirelessly for peace, democracy and national reconciliation. Alternative versions are circulating. Firstly, that Taylor won his election mainly because voters were intimidated by his National Patriotic Front of Liberia, amid international indifference. Secondly, that his ruling circle has in fact spent the past 18 months building up an impregnable network of overlapping domestic security agencies, training and re-equipping the RUF. And thirdly that a business empire is growing up, based on smuggled Sierra Leonean diamonds, and logging companies in south-east Liberia using child labour forcibly recruited by former NPFL commanders.

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