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WESTERN AFRICA

 

 

Press Statement Issued 1st September 2005

Liberian Elections and Charles Taylor

As Campaigns for Liberia’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections kick off, African and International Organisations Call on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and African Union Chairperson President Obasanjo of Nigeria to Ensure Charles Taylor Does Not Interfere in Liberia’s Democratic Process from Nigeria where he is currently exiled.

In a statement issued today, Mr Shina Loremikan of the Coalition Against Impunity campaigning for the trial of the former Liberian leader before the UN- supported Special Court for Sierra Leone stated “ECOWAS and President Obasanjo must ensure that Charles Taylor does not, cannot and is unable to distort Liberia’s electoral process and results.”

He continued, “It is bad enough that Taylor who is wanted by Interpol for crimes against Sierra Leonean, Liberian and other West African citizens is being sheltered from justice by the government of President Obasanjo. All indications are that he has the freedom to influence affairs in Liberia from Nigeria. President Obasanjo must guarantee that Taylor does not have any opportunity to affect the outcome of the Liberian elections”.

“Liberia is the epicentre of instability in West Africa and Taylor is the Chief Architect of this instability,” added Chima Ubani of the Civil Liberties Organisation. “The elections in Liberia are a crucial opportunity for Liberians to stabilise their country and by extension neighbouring West African countries”.

“ECOWAS cannot afford further conflict. Charles Taylor is responsible for launching 15 years of conflict which has affected four countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote D' Ivoire and Liberia, claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions” emphasised Zainab Bangura founder of Campaign for Good Governance and currently Director of National Accountability Group in Sierra Leone. She noted further that “the Presidents of Guinea and Sierra Leone and the interim President of Liberia have also publicly expressed concern over the capacity of Charles Taylor to destabilise the sub-region from Nigeria and issued a communiqué in July asking President Obasanjo to review the terms of Taylor’s asylum.”

“Justice is a necessary condition for peace,” stressed Tajudeen Abdulraheem, Director of Justice Africa. “President Obasanjo cannot shelter Taylor indefinitely. A newly elected government in Liberia needs to be free of the influence of Charles Taylor. The best foundation for reconstruction of Liberia is for Taylor to be transferred to the Special Court for trial. This will ensure that whatever government emerges in Liberia will not live under his violent shadow”

“The people of Nigeria, having lived under military dictatorship, are committed to justice and democracy in Liberia.” Added Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre in Nigeria. “This is why we are shocked that President Obasanjo's government is now persecuting members of the Coalition Against Impunity campaigning for the transfer of Charles Taylor to the Special Court. In early August Nigeria’s State Security Service arrested several persons in connection with distribution of Interpol red notices issued for Charles Taylor.  Members of the Coalition have been declared wanted by Nigerian security services, campaign posters of the Coalition have been confiscated and offices of the Coalitions printers have been shut down.”

“The fact that President Obasanjo is turning on his own citizens rather than turning over a war crime indictee to have his day in court raises questions about his commitment to upholding standards of the African Union of which he is the current Chairperson” underlined David Mafabi, Director of Political Affairs of the Global Pan African Movement. .“African leaders and institutions must ensure justice is done for countless victims of rape, child soldiers, journalist’s, amputees, refugees and others whose lives have been wasted in the Liberian, Sierra Leonean and other conflicts.”

“We the undersigned Liberian, Nigerian, Sierra Leonean, other African, and international organisations are therefore calling on President Obasanjo to immediately end his governments persecution of human rights campaigners, reassure Liberians and all Africans that Charles Taylor will not, shall not and cannot be allowed to subvert the collective will of the ECOWAS, African Union and the World Community, and hand him over to the Special Court for trial.”

Signed:

African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET),
L. Muthoni Wanyeki
Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia (Green Advocates), Atty. Alfred Brownell
Catholic Justice & Peace Commission (JPC), Atty. Augustine Toe
Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE), Ezekiel Pajibo
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Ahmed C Motala,
Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Chima Ubani
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Coalition Against Impunity, Shina Loremikan
CREDO for Freedom of Expression & Associated Rights, Rotimi Sankore
Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD), J. Aloysius Toe
Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), Sam Hare
Global Pan African Movement, David Mafabi
International Press Centre, (IPC), Lanre Arogundade
International Refugee Rights Initiative, Olivia Bueno
Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), Wale Adeoye
Justice Africa, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW), Cllr. Jerome Verdier
Media Rights Agenda, Edetaen Ojo
MWENGO, Ezra Limiri Mbogori
National Accountability Group, Zainab Bangura
Pan African Development Education and Advocacy Programme, PADEAP-
Nigeria. AbdulRahman Abdul Yekeen,

ENDS