The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: Senator Taylor Wants to Be Judge On Character

The former wife of ex-Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor says the "Taylor" name has its negatives and positives.In a Voice of America's interview while in the United States, Senator Taylor said she bears the name with honor and that people should judge her for her character and not on the basis of what her former husband might have done or did not do.

Senator Taylor said the old prejudices that come with her former husband's name will come to pass, especially as she continues to make what she called "a positive impact on the landscape of Liberia and the international community."

The former first lady was placed on the U.N. Travel Ban almost nine years ago after her husband was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity that he committed while serving as president of Liberia.

Senator Taylor, who is in the United States for the first time in nearly nine years said she's grateful to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the United Nations, and the U.S. government for the lifting of the sanctions.

"I have been praying about it, asking that God will provide a new opportunity that will enable me to be able to work. And it's not just working at home," she said. "We are party of the global village. Everything is intertwined, and if you're out of the system, even if you're doing the best job at home, it still denies you a lot of opportunities to interact, to network, to get new ideas that can help your country. And so I'm privileged that God opened this special door, and I want to thank our president who made this special request, and to the government of the United States who actually put the request on the table of the [U.N.] Security Council for which we have been removed from sanctions."

Senator Taylor was supposed to have traveled with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's delegation during the President's recent trip to New York to attend the 67th United Nations General Assembly but soon after the President left Monrovia, there were local media reports that, the senator, who did not make the flight with President Sirleaf, was denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia.

The U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying it had issued the senator a visa. Senator Taylor said she was never denied a visa. "They applied for a visa for me like they did everyone else. However, my request for granting of the waiver did not come until after the President left. But I was never taken off the plane or denied a visa," Taylor said.

The former first lady has been a senator for seven years, representing Bong County, Liberia's third largest political sub-division. Senator Taylor said, despite some prejudices associated with her former husband's name as a convicted war criminal, she carries the name with honor.

"Of course, there are places where you go and people would look at you a little funny. I know as long as I was on the sanction list, I wasn't invited to any of the U.N. programs in Liberia. It was as if I was a pariah," she said. "But I am just happy to say that that name also carries a lot of positivity because I work for the people of my country and that has enabled me to be the senator you see today. So, some people might look at the negatives, but I'd like to look at the positive, "she stated.

"As you know, the rules of engagement around the world say that people should be judged by the content of their own character. Somehow, there are some prejudices around the name, but I bear it with honor and I will continue to do that which I must to show that it's not about the name. It's actually about the individual," Taylor said.

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