Johnson-Sirleaf Requests Taylor Extradition

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(Rapaport…March 17, 2006) Liberia’s new president ended speculation on March 17, as to whether or not she would call for former President Charles Taylor’s extradition from Nigeria in order to face war crimes in Sierra Leone.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requested of Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo to hand over Taylor, but a timeline was not provided.

Obasanjo, according to press reports, is consulting with the African Union on how to respond to the request.

Taylor still has supporters in Liberia, and his ex-wife, Jewel Taylor, is a senator in Liberia.

Sylvester Paasewe, spokesman for Taylor, told the Associated Press that the extradition request counters the original deal, in which the United States agreed to “quash the indictment (in 2003) as part of the deal which brought Taylor to Nigeria and ended the war.”

“African leaders know that the whole matter is an outlay of United States foreign policy which is hinged on pre-emptive diplomacy which often carries with it the bane of regime change,” Paasewe told Reuters earlier this day.

Desmond de Silva, the chief prosecutor for the United Nations-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone called Johnson-Sirleaf’s request “a bold move by her and it does show very early on in her presidency that she wishes to uphold the rule of law.”

Obasanjo has said in the past that he would honor an extradition request, as long as such request came from “a democratically elected president of Liberia.”

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