Friday, April 09, 2004

Equatorial Guinea/Zimbabwe: Was Charles Taylor the real target?

An interesting wrinkle in the Equatorial Guinea attempted coup/mercenaries story. Could Charles Taylor have been the mercenaries real target? Africa Analysis argues the case ....
The former Liberian strongman, with a $2m price on his head, is currently residing in Calabar, across the Bay of Biafra from the island of Bioko and its capital, Malabo. Well-placed security sources in South Africa maintained in confidence that Taylor was the target, although they knew nothing of the geography of Equatorial Guinea or where the former Liberian strongman was housed. The route between Malabo and Calabar, where Taylor is housed in a guarded compound, and the Niger Delta is perhaps one of the best plied of west African smuggling channels.
If this story is true, then the (alleged) mercenaries might not have had too much trouble getting to Taylor. According to this report, Taylor's friends are abandoning him.
[Taylor’s official spokesman in Liberia, Vaani] Paasawe, who fled with Taylor to Calabar, told IRIN "Out of 23 personal security details Taylor brought with him, 15 have left because he's not been able to pay them".
Kinda makes me think of this song ...

UPDATE: On March 24, the Johannesburg daily ThisDay carried a story saying that the mercenaries were after Taylor ... the paper said its sources were people close to some of the South African mercenaries being held in Zim. The paper went on to say that Northbridge Services Group was behind the mission. However, Northbridge's president, Bob Kovacic, has denied his company was involved. But he did say his company had wanted to go after Taylor in the past. "Last June the International Court did ask us to get Taylor, but when we said it would cost $4 million they backed off. I am a businessman. I don't do charity work," he [Kovacic] added.

When Taylor left Liberia, Alan White, chief investigator for the War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone (where Taylor has been indicted), was quoted as saying: "We would not turn down anybody legitimate, even a private company, who can deliver Taylor to stand trial."

Check these two other posts about Northbridge Services Group and Taylor/Liberia ... (here and here)