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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taylor Indicted, Claims Coup Attempt

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Newly indicted war crimes suspect Liberian President Charles Taylor claimed Thursday that his government had foiled an attempted coup as rebel units allegedly advanced toward the Liberian capital.

Taylor said an attempted takeover of his government was launched Wednesday by "certain officials" supported by unidentified foreign diplomats.

Taylor did not reveal whether any arrests had been made but said he had accepted the resignation of Liberian Vice-President Moses Blah "as a result" of the coup attempt.

"The attempt was foiled," Taylor said, adding that "contacts were made by certain embassies accredited near this capital to senior armed forces personnel who did not accept their proposition."

Blah "will be explaining in the next few days to the nation and the world what prompted actions on his part and I'm sure he will have an apology for the Liberian people," Taylor said.

He added that "as I'm talking to you, there's massive fighting going on ... with units trying to enter Monrovia." There was no independent confirmation of the alleged coup attempt or the fighting.

The Liberian leader, who said the coup attempt came while he was in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday to attend peace talks with rebel groups, added that he "will be asking my entire Cabinet to resign [to] leave open the road to a government of national unity."

A UN-sponsored war crimes court in neighboring Sierra Leone charged Taylor on Wednesday with crimes against humanity for a 10-year terror campaign in which tens of thousands were killed, raped or kidnapped in Sierra Leone.

Taylor, a warlord-turned-president, long had been accused of running guns and keeping close ties to Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front, the rebels whose battle for control of Sierra Leone's diamond fields ended last year.

The indictment accuses Taylor of "bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law," said David Crane, the American prosecutor of the joint UN-Sierra Leone war-crimes court that issued the indictment and arrest warrant.

On Thursday, Taylor dismissed the indictment. "To call the president of Liberia a war criminal? God himself will not permit it," he said.

Ghanaian officials apparently made no attempt to arrest Taylor. Ghana's attorney general, Papa Owusu Ankomah, said authorities had not received the indictment and, once they did, would need time to review it. That gave Taylor plenty of time to return home, where arresting him would be extremely difficult.

Taylor sparked civil war in Liberia in 1989 with a failed coup attempt. The war killed hundreds of thousands in the West African country. He was elected in 1997 after emerging as the strongest warlord from the conflict.

Taylor aligned himself with Sierra Leone's rebels early in their war, selling them weapons in exchange for diamonds he would then sell abroad. Taylor's ties to the Sierra Leone rebels date back more than a decade. He is still under UN sanctions for alleged gunrunning and other ties with West Africa's many rebel movements.