Former Special Chief of Investigations of the U.N. backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) Dr. Alan White again says rebel turned former Liberian President and convicted war criminal Mr. Charles Taylor, through some of his surrogates, is still trying to make concerted efforts to influence the upcoming Liberian elections scheduled for October.
In an interview with the VOA's Nightline Africa program aired over the weekend, Dr. White disclosed that the international community, including the United States and the UK, are ensuring that Taylor does not violate the terms of his jail sentence. Part of the provision of his of his sentencing is that Taylor does not interfere in the election process at all in Liberia.
Dr. White, however, maintained that there are still efforts underway to undermine the provision of non-interference in Liberia's election by Taylor.
In a surprise disclosure the former Chief Investigator of the SCSL said "the Weah Campaign with Jewel Howard Taylor…one of the main plans of the campaign is to bring him [Taylor] back. And certainly, the international community, and not he least of which is the U.S., who contributed significantly time and money to ensure justice and stability is brought to the region will never support any effort to bring Charles Taylor or anyone that will support that effort to bring him back to destabilize not only Liberia but the region."
Observers say this is a veiled warning to Weah and anyone else who may be contemplating allowing themselves to be used by Taylor to influence the elections in October.
Liberia's main opposition the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political party has an ex-wife of Taylor as its Vice Standard Bearer.
In response to concerns that Taylor could have influence again, if the CDC with Jewel Howard Taylor as Vice Standard Bearer wins, Dr. White held that the best thing to do is to make Liberians understand what is happening. "Most of the Liberian people that I've met…and Ive spent a lot of time… like I said, I've been active in the region for the past 15 years, did not want Charles Taylor to come back and they wanted justice. And there was justice dispensed; he was convicted by an international court and to have any influence by that man [Taylor] in the country, I would think most Liberians would reject. He is a convicted war criminal and he has no right or say to interfere in the affairs of Liberia. I think it would stand to reason that, based on their [CDC] platform right now, that is one of their active planks to being him back…"
Dr. White initially disclosed these allegations to the VOA in November, 2016 that Taylor was trying to interfere in Liberia's election and was in communications with Senator George Weah. According to sources, Taylor was intent on ensuring that there was no establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia. Weah later confirmed a telephone conversation with Taylor but indicated it was just to exchange pleasantries since he [Taylor] was a former President. The CDC challenged Dr. White then and asked for proof of collusion with Taylor.
Asked which of the various Liberian Presidential candidates wants to ensure respect the rule of law and the judgement of the international criminal court concerning Charles Taylor and retributive justice for Liberians, Dr. White said he was aware of 2 individuals – incumbent Vice President Joseph Boikai, whom he said he later learned has recanted and Benoni Urey of the All Liberia Party (ALP). Mr. Urey served as Maritime Affairs Commissioner in the Taylor regime, is a former associate and a long time Taylor confidante.
Urey was the subject of UN and U.S. travel ban, asset freeze and economic sanctions for his alleged involvement in fueling the conflict in Liberia. In 2014, the UN de-listed Urey and others and which was followed on September, 2015 by the termination of the travel ban and financial measures set forth in paragraph 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) and the 1521 disclosing the 1521 sanctions list.
Urey remains on the U. S. Treasury Department sanctions list and it is unknown if there is a secret U.S. indictment pending against him for his involvement in the atrocities and support for Taylor.
Urey's ALP and former rebel turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson's Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation (MDR) had a recent falling out following initial coalition collaboration. Johnson had insisted that Urey accept the number 2 position in the coalition; something which Urey out-rightly rejected. Johnson has also alleged that Urey had plotted to have him [Johnson] assassinated several months at coalition talks in Ghana, West Africa. But Urey's party responded to Johnson's charges as lies.
Johnson also disclosed that Dr. White, in a prior meeting, told him [Johnson] that the Trump Administration was interested in seeing Urey, a business-man likeTrump, as President of Liberia. There is no proof of this policy of the Trump Administration. The U.S. Government nor Dr. White have responded to Johnson's allegations. Senator Johnson says he is now throwing his support behind incumbent Vice President Joseph Boikai.
On the issue of retributive justice, Dr. White reminded Liberians that if they really want justice, "it is their say. It's people like me that support, and others that support the rule of law. They [Liberians] will have a choice on what they want to do and how they pursue that… "
He asked Liberians to review all the candidates and make a choice on what's best for them.
The former SCSL Chief investigator concluded that based on the recent arrests and on-going investigations of former Taylor associates, Liberians feel empowered to be able to support somebody who will bring Justice to Liberians.
Liberia's bloody civil war launched by Charles Taylor raged between 1979 -2003. It is believed that an 250,000 were are killed, another 1 million dislocated internally and externally while thousands more are mutilated and raped by armies of drugged up child soldiers led by various warlords.
Taylor was elected as President of Liberia in 1997. An 11- count indictment unsealed while attending a peace conference in Ghana accused President Taylor of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other crimes. He was forced into exile in Nigeria. Taylor was arrested in Nigeria on March 29, 2009 and transferred into the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.. He maintained that he is innocent and called the charges conspiratorial. Following his prosecution in the Hague, Taylor was found guilty on all charges on April 26, 2012 and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
He is currently serving his sentence in the UK.
Reporting by Emmanuel Abalo
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