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LIBERIA: Charles Taylor's wife has divorce petition granted

monrovia, 6 January 2006 (IRIN) - Jewel Howard-Taylor, the official wife of notorious former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, has had her application for divorce granted, according to court documents obtained by IRIN on Friday.

A Liberian Circuit Court document revealed Howard-Taylor, the former first lady who was elected as senator in the recent parliamentary elections, had cited UN sanctions and her husband's limitless exile in Nigeria as reasons for the divorce.

"The prevailing circumstances including the imposition of a travel ban, banishment of Taylor from Liberia and his confinement ad infinitum, have deprived her of the conjugal benefit, consortium and companionship of their marriage to the extent that marital life between them had become impossible," the divorce document said. "It is legally prudent to decree the dissolution of said marriage."

Howard-Taylor filed for divorce in July 2005, but the court only ruled last week, finally dissolving her marriage with the warlord-turned-president, who is widely accused of fomenting civil strife across West African and is wanted on 17 counts of crimes against humanity by the UN-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone.

The pair married in January 1997, when Taylor was still waging his rebel campaign and was six months away from being elected president. They have one son.

When, with the rebels baying for blood at the gates of Monrovia, Taylor was finally pressured into stepping down from power and taking asylum in Nigeria in August 2003, his wife went with him.

Howard-Taylor spent some nine months in his heavily-guarded and luxurious compound in Calabar, before returning to Liberia in mid 2004, and was then stopped from further travel by the UN ban.

More recently the travel ban - imposed by the UN Security Council for "on-going ties with Charles Taylor - has proved a frustration to Howard-Taylor, who was elected as senator for Bong County in the landmark elections last October.

Earlier this week, she was barred along with three other newly-elected parliamentarians from travelling to Ghana on a week-long World Bank training program for Liberia's new assembly.

Theme (s): Conflict,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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