Charles Taylor stepped down as president of Liberia yesterday leaving vice president Moses Blah in charge but not before saying, “God willing I will return.” We go to Monrovia to hear from Christian Science Monitor’s Nicole Itano.
Charles Taylor stepped down as the president of Liberia yesterday but not before saying “God willing, I will be back.” In his farewell address he said “I have accepted this role as the sacrificial lamb … I am the whipping boy.”
Under pressure from rebels from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, Taylor surrendered power to his vice president Moses Blah and then flew into exile in Nigeria.
Blah himself is to hand over power in October to a transition government meant to lead Liberia into elections.
Rebels have seized most of Liberia in their three-year campaign to depose Taylor and have laid siege to the capital Monrovia.
Amid Taylor’s departure, three U.S. warships with 2,300 Marines and 2,500 sailors aboard moved within sight of shore. The ships have been within 100 miles of Liberia for more than a week. U.S. officials had said they were awaiting for the right moment before bringing them into sight.
Associated Press described hundreds of Liberians lining the country’s rock-lined shores, exclaiming and hugging at a dramatic day they prayed would mark a turning point for their country.
President George Bush called Taylor’s exile “an important step’’ but gave no hint whether it moved him closer toward deploying more U.S. troops to assist with peacekeeping or humanitarian relief efforts.
In a CNN interview yesterday, Blah appealed to the U.S. Marines offshore. He said “Please come to Liberia and save us because we are dying. We are hungry.’’
- Nicole Itano, covering events in Liberia for the Christian Science Monitor. She joins us on the phone today from Monrovia.