Aired July 4, 2003 - 12:31 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One thing has to happen. That's Mr. Taylor needs to leave, and I'm convinced he will listen.
MONITA RAJPAL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. President George W. Bush insisting on Thursday that Liberian President Charles Taylor must leave the country before a peacekeeping force is in place. But did Mr. Taylor get the message?
PRES. CHARLES TAYLOR, LIBERIA: Before I transit, I think it is important that peacekeepers be present.
So, what's next? Our exclusive interview with U.S. President George W. Bush ahead of his visit to the continent. Hear what's driving U.S. policies towards Africa.
This and other stories coming up on this special edition of INSIDE AFRICA.
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Hello there, and welcome to the program. I'm Monita Rajpal, sitting in for Tumi Makgabo.
We have a jammed-packed show for you this week, including an exclusive interview with U.S. President George W. Bush. Critics say the U.S. often pays lip service to African issues. Washington counters that by saying that President Bush's $15 billion AIDS initiative, and in recent days his stance on Liberia, are some of the issues that prove that Africa is high on Washington's agenda.
Now, Mr. Bush heads to the continent next week, his first since becoming president. Certainly Liberia will be one of the issues discussed during his visit. The U.S. is assessing ways to help restore order in Liberia.
Now on Thursday, President Bush granted INSIDE AFRICA's Tumi Makgabo an exclusive interview to talk about Liberia, his trip and other issues.
TUMI MAKGABO, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. President, thank you for very much for speaking with us, and welcome to INSIDE AFRICA.
BUSH: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
MAKGABO: If we could begin with the issue of Liberia, President Charles Taylor in particular. You said he needs to step down, he needs to leave the country. The U.S., along with other West African countries, are busy negotiating the whole issue. What are the discussions and options that are being put on the table?
BUSH: Well, I'm glad you brought up the departure of Charles Taylor. In our judgment, he needs to go in order to create the conditions necessary for a peaceful solution to this difficult situation occurs. And, you know, look, we're talking ECOWAS countries right now to determine whether or not -- you know, what the nature of a peacekeeping force might look like. I'm the kind of person that likes to know all of the facts before I make a decision.
Now, we've got special ties to Liberia. There are historical ties in the United States. That's why we are involved in this issue. And I'm going to look at all of the options to determine how best to bring peace and stability. But one thing has to happen. That's Mr. Taylor needs to leave. And I've been outspoken on that, and Mr. Colin Powell has been outspoken on that. And I think most of the people involved with this issue understand that that's important that he does leave.
MAKGABO: You say that he needs to leave. Does that mean that if those negotiations fail and President Charles Taylor refuses to go that you will send troops to remove him from office...
BUSH: Well, first of all, I refuse to accept the negative. I understand that's your job to try to put that forth. I believe he'll listen. And until he doesn't listen, then we can come back and talk about the issue. In other words, I hope he does listen, and I'm convinced he will listen.
MAKGABO: And should he not?
BUSH: No, I'm -- you're -- I'm convinced he will listen and make the decision, the right decision if he cares about his country.
MAKGABO: Let's talk about then your trip to Africa. It hasn't necessarily -- it has only recently become more apparent this particular administration's interest in African affairs and involvement in what's going on in the country -- on the continent...
BUSH: Yes, could I stop you there for a second? That's not true. As a matter of fact, from the very beginning of my administration I've been very much involved with African affairs. I've met over 22 African leaders. I just want to correct the record...
BUSH: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) misinformation, because Africa has been a very important part of my administration's foreign policy.
MAKGABO: However, many people would say that has only become more apparent to them, perhaps not necessarily to the administration but more apparent outwardly that this administration is becoming involved in African affairs. My question to you then is: If that is the case, and looking at the history which you've pointed out, why now? Why this visit now?
BUSH: Why am I going now? I thought it was important to go before my first term was over to show the importance of Africa to my administration's foreign policy.
And besides going on a trip, I mean, trips are fine. But what's more important is policy. And I proposed a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which will in my judgment affect the lives of African citizens in an incredibly positive way, which says that in return for aid, and we're increasing the amount of aid available, governments actually help to make decisions which will be positive on behalf of their people, such as educating their people or providing health care for their people, not to steal the money. In other words, don't focus on elites, but focus on the people themselves. Create the conditions necessary for market growth.
I promoted AGOA. Now, I didn't invent AGOA. That happened in my predecessor's time, but I promoted the extension of AGOA, which is the trade agreements between the African continent and the United States, which has been incredibly beneficial for a lot of countries and a lot of people on the African continent.
I proposed an AIDS initiative, because I believe it's very important for the United States to not only show its muscle to the world, but also its heart. And the AIDS initiative in our judgment when implemented will help affect the lives of thousands of people who are suffering from an incredibly -- you know, a pandemic that is actually destroying life, and it's sad for us.
Now, my administration is not only, you know, good on trips and meetings, but more importantly fundamental policy, and I think that's important.
MAKGABO: One policy that your administration hasn't necessarily agreed on with many African countries is the question of Iraq and the war in Iraq. Can you give us a sense of how close the administration feels you are to finding those weapons of mass destruction and banned weapons?
BUSH: Oh, sure, yes. There is no doubt in my mind he had a weapons program. He used them. Remember? He was the guy that gassed his own people. Those are weapons of mass destruction he used on his own people. No doubt. We found a biological lab, a very same lab that had been banned by the United Nations. It will be a matter of time.
Let me talk about Iraq, and I appreciate you bringing it up. If I think something needs to be done to enhance the security of the American people, I'll do it. See, that's my most important job is to protect the security of America.
Secondly, I believe in freedom for people, and I suffer when I hear the stories of what took place inside of Iraq -- the mass graves that have been discovered, the torture chambers, the jails for children. And the Iraqi people are going to benefit mightily from the actions of the United States and a lot of other nations, because they'll be free.
And we've been there for about 90 days, and, you know, the world -- you know, they expect democracy to have occurred yesterday. It's going to take a while for a free democratic Iraq to evolve, but it's going to happen. And history will show you what -- will show you, or the skeptics, that we were absolutely correct in our assessment of Mr. Saddam Hussein.
MAKGABO: All right, Mr. President, I'm afraid that's where I'm going to have to leave it. Thank you.
BUSH: Thank you very much for coming.
RAJPAL: That was U.S. President George W. Bush speaking with INSIDE AFRICA's Tumi Makgabo.
We're taking a short break right now. When we return, we'll hear from President Charles Taylor. Stay with us for that.
RAJPAL: Welcome back.
So, will the U.S. commit troops to a peacekeeping mission in Liberia? Now, the sticking point is the demand for President Charles Taylor to first resign. A Nigerian-led initiative could soon facilitate Mr. Taylor's departure, though he insists on the arrival of peacekeepers before stepping down.
On Friday, Mr. Taylor's spoke exclusively to CNN's Jeff Koinange.
TAYLOR: We have not been talking about asylum. We are talking about trying to have some soft landing in Liberia. And as a matter of fact, I just got off the phone with President Obasanjo, who will be visiting here on Sunday for discussions, so I don't want to get into speculating about asylum or no asylum.
The important thing here is for international peacekeepers to come to Liberia as quickly as possible, take charge of the situation, if I'm going to step down from office that there would be no problems after that stepping down occurs. That's basically what the West African community is dealing with right now.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You reiterated your point again this morning that you are stepping down, sir. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when?
TAYLOR: Well, I've been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the international community's court. It is important for peacekeepers to arrive in Liberia. You know, sometimes people miscalculate. Stepping down from office, leaving a void with no international peacekeepers here, there is no orderly transition for that stepping down, could be extremely chaotic.
The issue of a constitutional transition is no longer a question. I have said as of the fourth of last month that I'm prepared to step aside. What we must have in Liberia is a soft landing for that process. We can attach dates, times, it's not going to help us. I think we need to work together, and I want to welcome President Bush's remarks for the first time committing United States troops to come here.
Look, it is important for the United States government to understand that I am not anti-American. I have advocated for a long time for American involvement here. I am the grandson of an American that migrated to this country. I'm not anti. So, for anyone to insist that I must be off the scene for American troops to come here, implies that I'm anti-American, it is better for there to be an orderly entry, received by the legitimate government, the president (UNINTELLIGIBLE) over using the constitutional process and then I'm off the scene. It is important for my presence.
KOINANGE: Mr. President, if President Bush wasn't coming to Africa this time around, do you think Liberia would be in the limelight the way it's been the last few days?
TAYLOR: Well, he's a born-again Christian. I take him for his word that he was going to come here, and I think Liberia is important to him. I think it's important to the United States. So, I take him to his word that he genuinely means well for Liberia, and I want to see him do more for Liberia, and this is why I am urging more and not less. Send in the troops. Bring in some assistance. Let's get an orderly process here, and everything is going to be fine.
KOINANGE: Thank you, sir.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
RAJPAL: We turn now to INSIDE AFRICA's Jeff Koinange in Monrovia for the very latest.
And, Jeff, President Taylor was saying he will not leave unless peacekeepers, U.S. peacekeepers are in place to restore stability to the region. Now, we're hearing word that the U.S. military may be focusing on more of a humanitarian mission rather than a peacekeeping mission. What kind of impact is that going to have?
KOINANGE: I'll tell you what, Monita, if you see the situation on the ground, the people will be more than happy to have the humanitarian folks come in sooner than later.
As you well know, there are over 100,000 displaced Liberians who have fled the countryside. They are now in the capital, Monrovia, seeking refuge and shelter, of which there is none. There's no running water here in Monrovia. There is hardly any food. Sanitation is becoming a big, big problem. There's a lot of disease raging across the board from cholera to malaria to measles.
So, much needed aid will be very, very welcome, and that will also pave the way for the aid workers who had left because of the security situation. Once they come, they'll restore some kind of aid hopefully, and at some point life will go back to some kind of normalcy. But any change, anyone coming, Monita, will be very welcome at this point.
RAJPAL: Jeff, on that note, while President Taylor is insisting that there should be a peacekeeping mission, could this change of focus, if you will, from the U.S. military point of view, this change of focus to the humanitarian side, could this -- are there fears that President Taylor could renege on his word that he will step down?
KOINANGE: I hardly doubt it, Monita, because basically his back is against the wall, and he has very few cards left to play. That asylum of soft landing that he talked of, that's the only card he has left with Nigerian President Obasanjo coming in Sunday to meet with him.
I don't think he's going to renege this time. He genuinely feels for his people, and he wants them to be in a position where they don't have to suffer any longer. He knows they have suffered for most of the last decade-and-a-half. He knows he is the problem right now. He realizes, and he wants to leave basically. If he steps away and the humanitarian aid comes, fine, let it come, as long as the people of Liberia get their lives back -- Monita.
RAJPAL: And President Obasanjo is scheduled to meet with President Taylor on Sunday. That's what we understand. How much weight is being put on this meeting? And is there hope that President Taylor could possibly leave with him?
KOINANGE: A lot. A lot of weight, Monita. And there's a personal relationship between the two gentlemen that I don't think many people know. One of President Obasanjo's wives -- or ex-wives is actually President Taylor's sister. So, there's that connection right there, and that's why President Obasanjo has taken the lead. One of the reasons why he's taken the lead is that so that he could accommodate him and make sure that he has safe passage out of the country.
So, definitely there's a lot of weight there, and a lot of pressure, too. Because if Nigeria doesn't take him, if he doesn't take that option of Nigeria, where else is he going to go? And don't forget, there are rebel forces about 40-50 kilometers, not too far from here. They could see this as their signal to try and overrun the city once again as they've tried in the last two weeks.
So, this is a very important moment right now -- Monita.
RAJPAL: What are rebel forces saying about President Taylor's word saying that if we were to leave and no peacekeepers were in place that there would be chaos? What are they saying about that?
KOINANGE: Well, they're basically waiting and watching. As you well know, there are peace talks going on neighboring Ghana, where a transitional government will be set up at some point. The rebels are represented. Liberia's opposition parties are represented. The Liberia government is represented. Out of them, they will pick one interim leader. That person would be the person who will be in charge for maybe three to six months. And I think everyone is on the same page on that. They want someone to come in, be an interim leader for a little while, set the stage for elections maybe in six months' time, and the president who will be elected then will be Liberia's next president.
So, it's basically a wait-and-watch situation -- Monita.
RAJPAL: All right, Jeff, thank you very much for that. Jeff Koinange reporting to us there from Monrovia.
And there's much more to come here on INSIDE AFRICA. Just ahead, South African lawmakers debate an antiterrorism bill. Stay with us for that.
RAJPAL: Hello there, and welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA.
On the eve of U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to South Africa, a major row has erupted over an antiterrorism bill. Now, some critics call the bill draconian, saying it is designed to appease the U.S.
More now from our Johannesburg bureau chief, Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN JOHANNESBURG BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The aftermath of the Planet Hollywood bombing in Cape Town, it was called terrorism. A car bombing also in the Cape also called terrorism. The murder of a magistrate:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night (UNINTELLIGIBLE) urban terror to a new level.
HUNTER-GAULT: More recently, this railway bombing that left one woman dead in a poor Soweto shantytown, it's being called terrorism.
(on camera): The problem is, no one can agree on the definition of terrorism, and that's what's fueling the debate over South Africa's proposed antiterrorism bill. That, and the fact that it goes much further than what was requested in U.N. resolutions after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
SIMON KIMANI, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION INSTITUTE: Actually, anything that we know about radical political process or even ordinary criminal activities fall within the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of what they want to call is terrorist activities.
HUNTER-GAULT (voice-over): In the bill, terrorist acts include hijacking aircrafts, bombing and hostage-taking. The bill defines a terrorist as anyone committing an unlawful act inside or outside the country that is likely to intimidate the public or a sector thereof. It also allows in effect for detention without trial.
KIMANI: All of those are offenses under the existing common law and criminal procedures. The U.N. doesn't need that law.
IQBAL JASSAT, MEDIA REVIEW NETWORK: The consensus amongst civic organizations is that there's a need to first attract this legislation due to pressure by the Bush administration.
CHARLES NQAKULA, MINISTER, SAFETY AND SECURITY: They are very wrong about this. In South Africa, we have a terrorism act, which is in place as we speak. But this is a throwback to the old apartheid days. It was designed to protect the apartheid state against the evolution for the liberation of our people.
HUNTER-GAULT: Nqakula, who himself was labeled a terrorist for his anti-apartheid activities, insists the government will not adopt a law that harms its citizens or violates the constitution.
NQAKULA: And there is no way in which whatever act we adopt in the end is going to impact, for instance, negatively on our constitution. So, in the end, we do not believe that what we'll put in place will have all of those effects that some of our detractors say it would have. There is no way.
HUNTER-GAULT: Lawmakers insist all of these problems will be ironed out, but with parliament in recess there is no way the bill will be ready or the debate over in time for the Bush visit.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.
RAJPAL: And finally, President Bush and Charles Taylor are not the only ones making the headlines in Africa lately. The participants of the reality television show, "Big Brother," are indeed a big part of the news. The African version of the show gained notoriety recently when one of the contestants was sent to London to spice up the British version.
Paul Tilsley reports.
PAUL TILSLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what has got viewers all over the continent hooked, contestants from 11 different African countries, well, getting on with each other, not holding back.
This crew parties so hard that sometimes they carry on until they literally drop.
Contestants have chosen to take the clash of cultures not as a problem, but instead as a base for conversation. They seem oblivious to the 27 cameras, the crew of 120 peering at them goldfish-style 24/7.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, so we can see what Ty (ph) is doing.
TILSLEY: Contact with outsiders is forbidden. So, this week when I became the first journalist to be allowed into the house, I wasn't allowed to talk to the housemates, and they never knew I was there.
(on camera): One analyst remarked that the housemates had already reached a level of continental togetherness that politicians attending next week's African Union summit can only dream of. Here in the "Big Brother" house, it seems that cultural, national and racial barriers are being smashed on practically an hourly basis. Young people from all over the continent are watching spellbound, many identifying for the first time with housemates from other African countries.
GLENN MARQUES, CEO, M-NET: It's the first time that anything like this has been done, where we've taken a Pan-African or a Pan-Continental version and put people in from different countries. And I think that's because that's unique, that's what, you know, has got people's interest.
TILSLEY (voice-over): The contestants are so good, Africa has been exporting them. Uganda's Gatono Kwaqa (ph) was led blindfold from the house to fly to join "Big Brother" housemates in London for a week, and succeeded in livening up the rather laid-back Brits. The Scottish housemate who flew the other way to temporarily replace Gatono (ph) appeared to be in a perpetual state of shock. Instead of perhaps gloating, housemates cried when the first contestant, Angola's Bruna Estaval (ph), was evicted from the house. Viewers had voted her out in the thousands, because they felt she hadn't joined in the fun enough.
There's national African pride, too. Housemates here posing with their country's flags, which they had just made, pride reciprocated in thousands of cell phone messages sent from all over Africa and constantly shown on screen.
Officially, contestants are battling to win 100,000 U.S. dollars in prize money, but it's tempting to think for more it appears that they are to be together in Africa.
Paul Tilsley, INSIDE AFRICA, inside the "Big Brother" house, Johannesburg.
RAJPAL: And as always, INSIDE AFRICA wants to hear from you. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's our show. I'm Monita Rajpal. Thanks for watching.
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