Liberia - Leadership

Well before his official inauguration, Taylor began the process of forming a government. Declaring that he needed the talents of his former rivals in order to pursue reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, Taylor pledged to include some opposition leaders in his administration.

Very little in Taylor's past behavior indicated that he would govern by consensus. Indeed his rule has been that of a warlord. He bullies opponents, accuses them of treason, unleashes state security forces to harass and intimidate, and destabilizes neighbors via support to rebels. Without a system of functional checks and balances in place, few individuals or institutions are his match.

Taylor's power is not monolithic, and in the past he has engaged a public relations firm, Cohen and Woods International, to shore up his image. In November 1999, NPP members of the House of Representatives blocked the demolition of a large barracks in Monrovia because the bill authorizing the demolition had not passed through the National Assembly. In January 2000, police closed Radio Veritas and donor-funded Star Radio. However, Archbishop Michael Francis, recipient of the 1999 Robert Kennedy Human Rights award, pressured Taylor into allowing Radio Veritas to resume broadcasting the following March. In 2002, Radio Veritas resumed its short-wave broadcasts.

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