MONROVIA, LIBERIA (Talon News) — After 14 years of ruthless leadership in Liberia, Charles Taylor officially stepped down as President on Monday because of opposition to him by the rebels, the United States, and West Africa.
Although Taylor gave up his power to Vice President Moses Blah for now, he vowed, “I will be back.” He went into exile in Nigeria.
President Bush was pleased with the news of the exile of Taylor from Liberia. However, he did not indicate if more U.S. troops would be sent to help with peacekeeping efforts or to provide humanitarian aid.
“It is an important step toward a better future for the Liberian people,” Bush said while speaking in Denver on Monday.
Liberians marked this day as an important event in their nation’s history.
“From now on, everything is going to be all right,” remarked Ansu Outland.
Taylor now resides in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. He arrived there by airplane within three hours of resigning. Rebels had already gained control a most of Liberia over the past three years in their attempt to depose Taylor from the country.
As Taylor was being greeted by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a small group of supporters cried on his behalf as he waved to the crowd holding a white handkerchief. But security took him away before he made his final farewell.
Taylor now faces a U.N.-enforced war-crimes indictment for selling diamonds and arms to a rebel movement in Sierra Leone and South Africa.
Taylor alluded to returning to Liberia at some point in the future, although there are rumors of his being arrested or assassinated if he tries to return.
West African leaders were pleased to see Taylor leave Liberia. There was relief from everyone involved that the unrest in the country would soon subside.
“It is our estimation that today, the war in Liberia has ended,” announced Ghana President John Kufuor, who was a key player in persuading Taylor to leave Liberia.
“It is indeed shameful that as Africans we have killed ourselves for such a long time,” uttered South African President Thabo Mbeki. “It is indeed time that this war should come to an end.”
The United States is providing financial and peacekeeping support for Liberia just as it did when the nation was founded by freed slaves during the 1800s.
“The United States will work with the Liberian people and the international community to achieve a lasting peace after a decade of suffering,” Bush declared.
Bush praised leaders of South Africa, Mozambique, and Nigeria for making accommodations for Taylor and his family during this time of exile.
“Their continued leadership will be needed in the weeks and months ahead,” Bush exclaimed.
Nigerian security will ensure that Taylor does not rule Liberia from exile.
At the passing of the power ceremony in Monrovia on Monday, Taylor made some remarks prior to handing over the presidency to Blah.
“History will be kind to me. I have fulfilled my duties,” Taylor said confidently, even stopping once to compliment himself for speaking so well.
Because most of the capital of Liberia has been without fuel and food for the past few days, many Liberians had not heard the farewell address given by Taylor on Sunday night. Taylor repeated many of the same points in his speech on Monday.
Taylor pointed the finger of blame at the United States for forcing him to leave Liberia. Nevertheless, he made no mention of his role as a rebel member in 1989 to overthrow then-President Samuel Doe.
“I have accepted this role as the sacrificial lamb. … I am the whipping boy,” said Taylor.
Taylor ended his remarks by saying, “God willing, I will be back,” which caught many people by surprise.
Blah announced that Taylor would not have any say in leading Liberia while he is in exile.
“He is gone. He would not interfere with the day-to-day activities of the Liberian government,” Blah promised. “I am a truly independent president.”
Blah requested that U.S. Marines, who were stationed offshore, “please come to Liberia and save us because we are dying. We are hungry.”
The U.S.S. Iwo Jima, the U.S.S. Carter Hall and the USS Nashville were all within sight of the shore of Liberia on Monday. Nearly 5,000 Marines and sailors have been waiting for more than a week 100 miles off the coast of Liberia to get word about when to make their presence known.