Charles Taylor: Unhunted, but Poor

I wrote two weeks ago about the possibility, reported in the South African press, that the mercenaries currently imprisoned in Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea were actually planning to capture Charles Taylor, not overthrow the EG government. There hasn’t been a peep along those lines since, and that, coupled with the fact that major media elsewhere never picked up the story, leads me to conclude—tentatively—that there wasn’t anything to it. There’s always room for doubt in situations like this, but I’m not holding my breath.

So how is ol’ C.T. doing these days? Not so well, it turns out:

Taylor arrived with a large entourage. Dozens of family members and close aides accompanied him to Abuja and onwards the same night to Calabar, on Nigeria’s southeast coast, his agreed place of exile.

Days beforehand a series of special flights from the Liberian capital Monrovia had brought in a couple of luxury cars, household goods and hundreds of hangers-on who fled with the disgraced president as rebels besieged the capital Monrovia.

However, barely six months later, life has taken a lonely, perhaps bleak turn for Taylor.

Close aides said most of his entourage had deserted him, heading back to Liberia or dispersing within Nigeria in search of better fortunes.

“More than 70 percent of the people who came to Nigeria with Taylor have since left him and gone back to Liberia,” said Vaani Paasawe, who was Taylor’s official spokesman in Liberia.

Paasawe, who fled with Taylor to Calabar, told IRIN “Out of 23 personal security details Taylor brought with him, 15 have left because he’s not been able to pay them”.

Good riddance. The best part of this is that a poor and abandoned Taylor will have a harder time meddling in Liberian politics from afar.