Liberia’s local dailies are beginning to pick up the other side of what happens following the guilty verdict of former President Charles Taylor on allegations that he aided and abetted war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war. Let’s make no mistake that Mr. Taylor remained a sitting President of Liberia when he was indicted by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. Let’s also make no mistake that the National Legislature of the first six years of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration was fully seated when she (Sirleaf) was accused of single- handedly requesting the extradition of Mr.
Taylor from Calabah, Nigeria to go to Sierra Leone for prosecution. In fact, let’s not forget that on the average, many believed that forcing Mr. Taylor from exile in Nigeria to face trial for his alleged involvement in Sierra Leone’s crisis was the best recipe for Liberia’s genuine reconstruction and development because it was the prime precondition for donors’ contributions to enable the Unity Party-led government to deliver goods and services to war-ravaged Liberians.
The claim that President Sirleaf might have lonely sought the extradition of Mr.Taylor to face prosecution when the Liberian governance system has three distinct branches to coordinate and collaborate in steering the affairs of the state tempted to portray a breach or violation of check and balance of power.
In any case, comments have begun coming from the National legislature which is the first branch of government. It must be made very clear that the leaderships of both the House of Representatives and the House of Senate have not made any official statements on the guilty verdict of the former Liberian President, yet individual members have begun to provide their opinions on the high profile judgment. For example, Bong County District #1 Representative J. Togbah Mulbah has been quoted in a local daily in Monrovia as noting that the indictment, arrest, detention and prosecution of Mr. Taylor were politically influenced by the Western world hence his guilty verdict was not a surprise to Many Liberians including himself. He has argued that if anything like reparation be requested for Sierra Leone, the United States of Americas and Great Britain will shoulder the responsibility because they undertook such project and not the Liberian Government.
Moreover, Representative George Mulbah, who has been serving Bong County on the ticket of the National Patriotic Party, the former ruling party of the Taylor’s regime since 2006 up to present, said it would be absurd for anyone to bring the issue of reparation for Sierra Leone before the National Legislature if required by the Special Court. He sees the court as a purely Sierra Leonean Court established by the laws of that country backed by the United Nations, which Liberia was never a signatory to and will therefore not be ‘mixed up’ in anything in paying reparation.
However, Maryland Junior Senator Dan Morias has indicated that Taylor’s guilty verdict could affect Liberia negatively. He has told a newspaper in Monrovia that Liberia could be made to pay reparation to the people of Sierra Leone since the indictment period indicates that Mr. Taylor was President of Liberia at the time.
Senator Morias has looked at the historicity of the crisis and noted that West African crisis is interwoven and no one nation or person should take responsibility or account for it. He recalled that Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea had been involved directly with crisis in Liberia that claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people.
Mr. Morias has also argued that Mr. Taylor should be given a short prison sentence because he was not found guilty of any direct involvement with the war in Sierra Leone as he was charged by the court.
Meanwhile, the silence of members of the 52nd National Legislature at the time Mr. Taylor was requested by the Liberian Government to be extradited and go to Sierra Leone for prosecution did not go down well with Liberians who have had explicit confidence in their lawmakers to defend the country at all fronts. Some citizens say resistance from the Capitol Building at this time when guilty verdict has been passed on Mr. Taylor is a mere political showdown.