Monrovia – No elected President of Liberia has the power to bring former President Charles Taylor back from jail before the completion of his 50-year jail term, the European Union has confirmed to FrontPageAfrica.
Of late, there have been growing concerns among members of the international community over assurance given by Mr. Taylor’s ex-wife, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, who is also the vice standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that the CDC will bring ex-President Taylor’s agenda back on the table, if elected to political power.
The European Union Embassy in Monrovia informed FrontPage Africa that as part of terms, on which Taylor was jailed, he is not supposed to meddle in Liberia’s politics and he is therefore being monitored to ensure adherence the terms and conditions of his sentence.
“Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone and is serving a 50 year sentence. This sentence cannot be overruled because of a change of President in Liberia."
"It is a condition of his sentence that he does not attempt to interfere in Liberian politics and this is monitored closely by prison authorities in the United Kingdom (where he is serving his sentence),” The EU Embassy in Monrovia wrote in a response to a FrontPage Africa’s inquiry.
The European Union is not the only member of the international community concerned about ex-President Taylor’s return to Liberia. Last week, the United States Congress Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday conducted hearing into “The Future of Democracy and Governance in Liberia” recalling Liberia’s emergence from ruthless civil war orchestrated by Taylor.
Ed Royce, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee said “We remember the horrors of Charles Taylor, his brutal regime in Liberia, and his support of the vicious rape, mutilation, and murder of tens of thousands of people in Sierra Leone and the region."
Rep. Royce recalled how the U.S. government worked diligently along party lines to send a clear, unified message that led to Taylor being brought to justice.
“When I chaired the Africa Subcommittee, we worked diligently, and across party lines, to send a clear, unified message — Charles Taylor must be brought to justice. And against the odds, he was.”
The US Congressional Foreign Committee made it clear during the hearing that the U.S. government looks forward to working with the next government in dealing some of the past human rights violation.
Speaking last Tuesday in Saclepea, Nimba County while on a campaign spree, Senator Taylor, though intimating that her ex-husband is not involved in Liberian politics, said her agenda is to put the agenda set by former President Taylor back on the table.
“Former President Taylor is not involved in Liberian politics, but I believe the NPP he created is a grass root party that made promises to its citizens since 1997. Because of what happened in our government and the abrupt closure and arrest of President Taylor, we were not able to fulfill those promises; but the NPP is now strong and so we want to call upon all the NPP stalwarts across the length and breadth of Liberia to come on board and help us win these elections, we’ll put that agenda back on the table,” she said.
Senator Taylor said due to the abrupt closure of the NPP led government and the arrest of former President Taylor, they were not able to fulfill those promises.
Speaking to the VOA recently, the Special Prosecutor for the Special Court for Liberia, Mr. Alan White, who played a key role in gathering evidence for Taylor’s prosecution, said “it is a concern that anybody running for President in Liberia would want to bring a convicted war criminal that was responsible for over 200,000 people and over 1.2 million victims in the region between Liberian civil war and Sierra Leone civil war which he started.”
According to him, Congress is concerned about the development and iterated that U.S. government position is very clear that ex-President Taylor is a convicted war criminal and “they will support no effort to ever bring Charles Taylor back to Liberia where he poses a threat to Liberia and also to the region. There’s no question that he would be a destabilizing factor; so for anybody, any person or effort to bring back a convicted war criminal that credit so much devastation and destruction in human lives is quite frankly absurd.”
Congressman Royce and White are not the only ones ringing alarm bells. In a commentary titled “Liberia’s Elections to be presided over by an individual who lacks integrity”, a commissioner of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission, John H.T. Stewart, Jr. said the scars of Taylor’s plunge of the Mano River basin are all too visible and have not been forgotten.
“La Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea also bear strong reminders of the atrocities committed by the Charles Taylor led National Patriotic Front (NPFL). La Cote d’Ivoire, in particular, is still faced with problems of insecurity along its border with Liberia as evidenced by sporadic armed attacks on Ivorian Government forces by elements believed to be based in Liberia. In this regard, neither Governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone and La Cote d’Ivoire would tolerate the resurgence of Charles Taylor to power in Liberia in whatever form, whether it is through his ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor who still maintains close ties to him, or any of his surrogates including former close associates, Benoni Urey and Oscar Cooper or deal maker George Weah.”