There’s been a new twist in the continuing story of Charles Taylor, the Liberian ex-dictator now in exile in southern Nigeria. I described earlier the surreal controversy around $2 million that was inserted into the $87 billion emergency spending bill to fund “rewards for an indictee of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.” Since then the U.S. has bent even further backwards to clarify that they didn’t mean to encourage any sort of illegal action be taken to extract Taylor from his luxury villa. Now, however, President Obasanjo has said that Nigeria will surrender Taylor if asked by the Liberian government.
If Liberia’s new interim government decides it wants him to face charges [in Sierre Leone], “then I believe he will understand sufficiently the need to go home,” Obasanjo told foreign reporters, speaking in an interview at his farm north of Lagos.
Asked what he would do if Taylor resisted, Obasanjo responded, “I would persuade him.”
I’m not sure just what could persuade Taylor to leave his hideaway. Maybe it’s a safe promise to make because Liberia’s not likely to ask. Maybe Obasanjo’s cutting him loose. Time will tell.
Ed Hand deserves credit for speculating (in the comments of my earlier entry) that the $2 million probably came from overzealous legislators who weren’t consulting with State. He said:
I’m sure there are some in foreign countries looking at how our government works and shaking their heads, as a group of congressmen can pass resolutions and appropriate money in ways not coordinated with our State Department’s articulated positions.
And now Obasanjo:
There were “elements in the United States who were well-meaning but misguided, misdirected and misinformed,” Obasanjo said Tuesday, referring to the U.S. push to capture Taylor.
“There was not enough communication even between the executive government and the Legislature,” Obasanjo said of the United States. “But I believe the information gap has been filled.”
So, probably no bounty hunters in Nigeria’s future. Northbridge will be disappointed.