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The Non-Trial of Charles Taylor

Though exiled two years ago, Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor still looms large in the country’s first elections since the end of its brutal civil war. But, despite the advent of true democratic elections, Liberia and all of West Africa will be trapped in an unending cycle of violence unless Taylor is put in the dock for war crimes.

The presidential poll to be held on October 11 could help Liberia determine a new course. But Taylor has wielded a heavy hand in the campaign, his impunity making a mockery of international justice.

Nigeria, which is giving Taylor sanctuary, is obliged to turn him over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, created by the United Nations in 2003 to prosecute those responsible for the bloodletting in West Africa’s in the 1990’s. Indeed, Nigeria now holds the key to peace in the region.

But President Olosugun Obasanjo of Nigeria has, so far, turned a deaf ear to calls to surrender Taylor. Instead, Taylor is housed in a villa on the sandy beaches of Calabar on Nigeria’s southeastern coast, as key international players – including France, the United Kingdom,and South Africa – remain silent.