Charles Ghankay Taylor

Taylor, Charles Ghankay, 1948–, Liberian rebel and political leader. Taylor attended college in America and became a leader among Liberians there, mounting demonstrations against President William Tolbert when the latter visited (1979) the United States. When Samuel Doe overthrew Tolbert, Taylor served in Doe's government, but fled (1983) to the United States when accused of embezzlement. Arrested (1984) and awaiting extradition, he escaped (1985), and returned (1989) to Liberia as a rebel leader. The rebels were victorious (1990) but split into factions; Taylor's forces ended up holding most of Liberia except Monrovia. The subsequent brutal civil war ended in 1997, and Taylor was elected president. His regime was marked by corruption, Liberian support of Sierra Leone rebels (which led to UN sanctions and charges of war crimes), and an uprising that began in 2001. When the latter threatened Monrovia in 2003, Taylor was forced into exile in Nigeria. In 2006 he was extradited at Liberia's request and brought before the war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone; for security reasons he was later transferred to The Hague. He was convicted in 2012 of war crimes relating to aiding Sierra Leone rebels and given a 50-year sentence (to be served in Britain).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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