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Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is the President of Liberia.

In 1989 Taylor launched an armed uprising from Ivory Coast. He came to power in 1990 after overthrowing and killing President Samuel Doe whose troops had been accused of civilian attrocities.

Taylor's campaign turned into an ethnic conflict, with seven factions fighting for control of Liberia's resources (esp. iron ore, timber and rubber). Up to 200,000 people were killed and more than 1 million were forced from their homes.

Taylor's regime was legitimized when he became Liberia's president in a landslide poll victory in 1997.

As president, Taylor has been characterized as one of Africa's most authoritarian dictators. He has repeatedly supported wars in Liberia's neighbouring countries, and is alleged to be the center of a major diamond smuggling ring.

In June of 2003 a United Nations justice tribunal issued a warrant for the President's arrest, charging him with war crimes. The UN asserts that Taylor created and backed the Revolutionary United Front[?] (RUF) rebel group in Sierra Leone, which is held responsible for a range of deliberate attrocities including the use of child soldiers.

Taylor is also accused of having been trained in guerrilla warfare in a training camp run by Moammar Al Qadhafi and al-Qaeda.

The indictment was issued at Taylor's official visit to Ghana. With the backing of SA president Mbeki, against the urging of SL president Kabah, Ghanaian police failed to arrest Taylor who returned to Monrovia.

Officials of the UN-backed War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone have been outraged at the inability of Ghanaian authorities to arrest an indicted criminal.

Back in Monrovia, Taylor met with a failed foreign-backed coup attempt, as well as rebel armies closing in on the capital city. The rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) has battled Taylor since 1999.

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