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Summary Article: Taylor, Charles Ghankay from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Liberian warlord leader in the early 1990s and head of state 1997–2003. He was leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), part of the force that launched an armed uprising from Cote d'Ivoire which overthrew President Samuel Doe. From 1990 Taylor's forces advanced rapidly across the country, but a violent civil war broke out among the country's warlords. The civil war lasted until 1996, claiming 200,000 lives. Taylor was elected president by a landslide majority in 1997, but faced rebellion in the north from 1999, led by Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and in the south from 2003, by the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). He fled to exile in Nigeria in August 2003, with the capital, Monrovia, besieged by rebels and US pressure for him to leave office. In March 2006, he was arrested and returned to Liberia to face war crimes charges before a UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague, in The Netherlands. In April 2012 the Special Court sentenced him to 50 years' imprisonment for aiding and directing rebels in Sierra Leone.

Taylor was born in Monrovia to a Liberian mother and an American father. He played a prominent role in the regime of Samuel Doe (president 1980–90), but in 1983 he was accused of embezzlement and fled to the USA. Escaping to Ghana he was detained on suspicion of working for the CIA but later granted political asylum. He formed the NPFL with the aim of forcing Doe out of office, and received military support from Libya. In 1987 the NPFL attacked a border town. This escalated into full-scale civil war and caused the collapse of the Liberian government.

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