Bar Liberia president from office: war commission

Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission yesterday said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should be banned from public office for 30 years for backing a rebellion led by former President Charles Taylor.
Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state, has previously admitted providing Taylor, a warlord during Liberia’s 1989-2003 civil war, with money but said she had been misled into supporting him, Reuters reports.
Taylor, 61, is on trial in The Hague for war crimes including murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during the interlinked wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250 000 people were killed.
Taylor has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is due to begin his defence on July 13.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission does not have the power to enforce its recommendations, but must present them to parliament which may subsequently enact them as legislation.
“Political leaders and financiers of different warring factions shall be barred from holding pubic offices elected or appointed for a period of thirty years,” the report, seen by Reuters earlier this week, said.
The Commission was established in 2005 to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As well as Johnson-Sirleaf, its report names another 49 people it says either participated in or financed the rebellion and should be banned from office for 30 years.
Johnson-Sirleaf would study the report, but would not comment immediately, her spokesman Cyrus Badio said.
The president is trying to rebuild an economy shattered by the war, buying back $1.2 billion (R9 billion) of outstanding government debt earlier this year, a key step towards attracting investment.
There have been signs that firms are keen to buy into Liberia’s natural resources.
An $800 million (R6462 million), pal and rubber deal with Malaysian firm Sime Darby will create 20 000 jobs, Liberia’s investment chief said in May, but last month steel producer ArcelorMittal said it was delaying a planned $1.5 billion (R12 billion) iron ore project there.