Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson accused President Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels" by asking Liberian President Charles Taylor, recently indicted for war crimes, to step down.
"How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'" Robertson said Monday on "The 700 Club," broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network.
"It's one thing to say, we will give you money if you step down and we will give you troops if you step down, but just to order him to step down? He doesn't work for us."
Robertson, a Bush supporter who has financial interests in Liberia, said he believes the State Department has "mismanaged the situation in nation after nation after nation" in Africa.
"So we're undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country," he said in the broadcast.
Robertson told The Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that he has "written off in my own mind" an $8 million investment in a Liberian gold mining venture he made four years ago, under an agreement with Taylor's government.
"Once the dust has cleared on this thing, chances are there will be some investors from someplace who want to invest. If I could find some people to sell it to, I'd be more than delighted," he said in the article.
He said his investment was intended to help pay for humanitarian and evangelical efforts in Liberia.
Angell Watts, a spokeswoman for Robertson, said Robertson was not available to comment Thursday because he was traveling. She also declined to comment.
Taylor waged war for seven years as a rebel leader before being elected president in 1997.
The United Nations and European leaders have sought U.S. troops to enforce a repeatedly violated June 17 cease-fire between forces loyal to Taylor and rebels fighting for three years to oust him. Under the deal, Taylor promised to step down, clearing the way for a transitional government that will oversee fresh elections.
Mr. Bush, speaking Wednesday in South Africa, promised to help enforce the cease-fire and "see to it that Mr. Taylor leaves office so there can be a peaceful transition in Liberia."
On Sunday, Taylor accepted an offer of asylum from Nigeria, but on condition that an international force is deployed in Liberia.
A U.N.-backed tribunal indicted Taylor on June 4 for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone.
Robertson told the Post that the war crimes indictment "is nonsense and should be quashed."
He said Taylor has "become such a lightning rod" that he should leave office, but in an orderly transition accompanied by the insertion of U.S. peacekeepers.
"Frankly, the president's call for Taylor to step down immediately is not wise, because if Taylor leaves immediately, the country will descend into chaos," he told the paper.
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