Taylor says U.N. will continue sanctions against Liberia

Liberian President Charles Taylor said on Sunday that he expects the United Nations to extend sanctions against his troubled West Africa country, the Associated Press reported.

The reason the sanctions will be extended “is because their (the United Nations) plans have still not worked. They want to see all of us dead,” Taylor told hundreds of people attending a church service at a packed public hall, the AP reported. “They want us away from our homes. … They don’t want a Charles Taylor here. They want a puppet that they can manipulate,” he said during a speech that was repeatedly interrupted by cheering and applause.

The Security Council slapped a new arms embargo on Liberia in March 2001 and a diamond embargo and travel restrictions last May to punish the government’s gun-and diamond-running with rebels across the border in Sierra Leone.

The council has to review the sanctions before May 7 when they expire.

A recent report by U.N. experts said Liberia has repeatedly violated an arms embargo, and recommended that the embargo be maintained and extended to include rebel groups.

The panel of experts also said that a ban on diamond trade could be lifted if Liberia set up a credible certification system for its diamonds.

Taylor, who was elected in 1997 after being a powerful warlord in Liberia’s 1989-1996 civil war, reportedly said, “God will bring his wrath upon all those perpetrating evil against Liberia.”

“In most countries where there is war there is massive humanitarian assistance, but that is not the case with Liberia,” he reportedly said. “You see our people dying and burning in their villages, our young girls being raped … but people say there is no war here.”

Liberia’s government is fighting a more than two-year-old insurrection in its countryside.

On Friday, the government announced a ban on all unauthorized public gatherings so that it could “more firmly enforce” a state of emergency, declared Feb. 8 after rebels reached the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital, the AP reported.

The ban was imposed amid criticism from New York-based rights group, Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. Embassy for alleged human rights abuses by Taylor’s government.

The criticism followed the arrest and beating of a leading human rights lawyer and the closure of an independent newspaper.

But Taylor spoke out against his critics, and reportedly said that anybody “who wants to do bad” automatically becomes a human rights activist in Liberia.

“What makes you think that you are more of a human rights person than other people? You hide in darkness, you betray your country, you throw rocks and you hide your hands, but we know you,” he reportedly said.