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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Papers welcome Taylor's exit
Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor
Taylor's depature is expected to mark the end of Liberia's civil war

A day after Liberia's former President Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria, African newspapers welcome his departure.

Some papers express approval of the apparent willingness of African nations to resolve crises in the continent, but there is also apprehension about the problems awaiting the peacekeepers.

Kenya's Standard says "Charles Taylor bit the dust", but "not out of compassion for Liberia".

"Taylor was surrendering the baton of defeat and he was not doing it out of patriotism, for he was never a statesman."

Accusing the former president of having no empathy for the victims of the 14-year-old civil war "in which Taylor was a critical player", the paper believes few will bemoan his departure.

Taylor was a study in the kind of leadership Africa does not need
Kenya's Standard
"He was a study in the kind of leadership Africa does not need," is the Standard's verdict.

In Ghana, the opposition newspaper Chronicle argues that with Mr Taylor's exit, it is now time for Liberia's rebels to put down their weapons and work for peace.

"The handing over of power by President Charles Taylor... will save thousands of Liberians from the jaws of death, starvation and disease," it says.

"The rebels should back down from their entrenched positions", it says, and accept "the neutrality and good intentions of the peacekeepers, and cooperate with them to end this senseless war".

The paper also calls on West African leaders to ensure that any peace settlement is not a "patched" document "but a solid one that can stand the test of time".

"It is in our collective interest", it concludes, "that peace and stability return at all costs."

Africa's responsibility

A commentary in South Africa's Business Day says the involvement of West African nations in seeking a resolution to the Liberian crisis "reveals a new willingness among African leaders to hold their peers accountable for misrule".

While acknowledging that no two African countries are identical, it suggests that the Liberian experience could contain lessons for Pretoria over a problem closer to home.

Liberia is not Zimbabwe. Interventions must be tailored to circumstances
South Africa's Business Day
"Liberia is not Zimbabwe. Interventions must be tailored to circumstances," it admits.

"But we should not overlook broad trends."

In Kenya's Nation a commentary argues that stability in Africa's troubled regions will not be achieved unless peacekeepers are allowed to "enforce peace by force of arms".

"Liberia and other countries in similar situations demand troops that will go in, not just to provide a symbolic presence, but to fight to force the peace," it believes.

Liberia, it concludes, "will have to come under an occupying administration with the muscle to do what must be done to restore sanity".

In Nigeria, the country that sent the first troops to Liberia, the Daily Champion is worried that its peacekeepers do not have the numbers to even protect themselves.

Write off Taylor at your own peril
Uganda's Monitor
"Nigeria's contingent to Liberia is too small and the soldiers are being exposed to grave danger," it fears.

Between at least 12,000 and 13,000 troops will be required to secure all of Liberia, it says.

Anything less "would result in a suicidal operation and the current 1,500 troops may turn out to be sacrificial lambs".

Gone for good?

Mr Taylor's departure may not be permanent, fears a commentary in Uganda's Monitor.

"Write off Taylor at your own peril," it warns.

"He is going to lie low in some rogue country, knowing that the slaughter at home will continue," it forecasts.

"When the country has been thoroughly 'Somalianized' he will emerge from obscurity to reclaim the political and moral high ground as a messiah."

The commentary concludes by sarcastically welcoming Liberia's stand-in leader.

"I wish new President Moses Blah better fortunes in his search for a land flowing with milk, honey, blah, blah."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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