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Opinions of Thursday, 17 July 2003

Columnist: Asibey, Akwasi

Charles Taylor is Undermining Ghana’s Efforts to Develop

If you think that the ongoing political and civil strive in Liberia concerns only Liberians think again! There are several reasons why as a Ghanaian you should be worried about the near disintegration of Liberia. The unstable situation in Liberia is undermining Ghana’s investment drive as well as its peace and security.

Potential investors are being discouraged to invest in the whole sub region because of the perception that it will not be safe to do so. In its July 5th to 11th issue, The Economist, in an article entitled “A region in flames: West Africa’s civil wars are spilling across borders. Can they be contained?” the magazine sought to show how the crisis in Liberia retards the development efforts of individual countries in the sub region. It argued, “taken as a whole, West Africa’s crisis is one of the world worst. The regional war has claimed perhaps half a million lives, and continues to blight a million more”. The perception that the whole West Africa region is unsafe is a huge blot on individual countries. It is no wonder that despite Ghana’s best efforts to attract foreign investment, the response has been only lukewarm.

Liberia continues to produce thousands of refugees some of whom are now residing in Ghana. Most of these refugees have nothing else to do and are a constant threat to the stability and security of the country. So recent reports that President Charles Taylor has offered to step down in order to bring peace to his country should be welcome news to all peace-loving Ghanaians.

This rogue leader fought hard and dirty to be President of his country. Between 1989 and 1996, he launched a bloody campaign to capture what was left of the Liberian state. His scorched earth policy made people fear him. He cared less about human life. He recruited a bunch of aimless young boys, some as young as seven years to fight his dirty wall. Fully pumped with drugs, these boys were reported to be in such a state that they did not hesitate killing whoever crossed their path, even their own parents! With the help of the West Africa intervention force, ECOMOG, the country was stabilised and elections held in 1997, which catapulted Mr. Taylor into the highest office of his land.

Having won the Presidency, Mr. Taylor failed to observe the fundamental principle of governance and human decency, namely to use power to improve the social and economic conditions of the people. Motivated by sheer avarice, he stoked the flames of the raging political and civil conflicts in neighbouring countries, especially Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry. This further deepened the misery faced by the people of these countries. Mr. Taylor is a very articulate public speaker and used this talent to deny that he was meddling in the internal affairs of his neighbours. This warlord thought he was smarter than his peers in the sub region. But the days when leaders could massacre their people or starved them to death with impunity are long gone.

We live in era of accountability and respect for human dignity. The international community is determined to ensure that such atrocities are no longer tolerated. Most significantly, any leader who fails to deliver, as Mr. Taylor may have realised to his chagrin, will not last long in office.

Even if the people are too weak to mobilise to throw a challenge, the international community will pile up pressure to ensure that justice prevails. So let us all pray for Mr. Taylor’s eventual departure from the Presidency in Liberia. It would be good for the sub region and for Ghana in particular, which is determined to grow its economy so that it can become a middle-income country in the next decade.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.