As Liberian President Charles Taylor accepts asylum offer in Nigeria, Democracy Now! hosts a debate with TransAfrica’s Bill Fletcher and Mel Foote of Constituency for Africa on what the U.S. should do. This comes as President Bush starts a five-nation tour of Africa.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that they want President Bush to get congressional approval before sending any U.S. troops to Liberia.
At the same time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said military leaders would prefer that West African armies take the lead in any effort to end the brutal conflict.
Liberian President Charles Taylor said Sunday he would step down from power. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo met Taylor at Monrovia’s airport to offer him asylum, which Taylor accepted. Taylor said "I thank my big brother for coming. He has extended an invitation and we have accepted an invitation." This according to The New York Times.
Taylor urged the U.S. to send peacekeepers to ensure an "orderly" exit from Monrovia, which is surrounded by rebel forces.
Taylor gave no timeframe for when he would quit power and did not specify whether the deployment of US troops was a condition for his departure.
Thousands have died in the 13-year civil war, and Taylor has been indicted for war crimes by a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone.
The US has been under growing international pressure to send troops to participate in a peacekeeping force. West African nations have said they will provide 3,000 soldiers for the mission but have suggested that the United States send 2,000 more. Liberia was founded as a colony for freed American slaves in the 1800s.
Bush leaves today on a five-nation tour in Africa. While he not stopping in Liberia, he will visit Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria.
- Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica.
- Mel Foote, President and CEO of Constituency for Africa, a coalition of organizations and groups that educates Americans about Africa and African issues.