Liberia: Dumoe Seeking Bong County Votes On Charles Taylor’s Slate
Gbarnga, Bong County – It is another election year in Bong and the Charles Taylor rhetoric is popping up yet again. This time around it is coming from senatorial aspirant, Menipakei Dumoe. Dumoe is acting chairman of the opposition pressure group, Council of Patriots (COP), and could contest as an independent candidate in the December 8 Special Senatorial elections.
The quest for Bong County Senate seat so far has nine contestants, including the incumbent, Henry Yallah. Dumoe, the newest in Bong’s politics, is the only candidate running with an agenda tied to the release of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
Taylor’s name is still as strong in Bong County, five years since he was sentenced to 50 years for war crimes committed in neighboring Seirra Leone
Dumoe said Taylor should be released from prison to ensure peace and stability in West Africa.
Associating with the former Liberian president has become a risky political gamble during elections; yet Dumoe understands that the name Taylor still plays magic in quarters of Bong County.
In a fiercely contested senatorial election in 2014, current Liberian vice president, Jewel Howard-Taylor, made significant political strife using a purported voice recording of her ex-husband rallying the support of ex-fighters from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and supporters of the National Patriotic Party (NPP).
One hour to the end of campaign activities in 2014, Howard-Taylor released an audio that was broadcast on Radio Gbarnga, which she claimed was the voice of her former husband. Howard-Taylor said her former husband had a ‘special’ message for residents of the county.
In a one-minute audio, the purported Charles Taylor said : “I am Charles Ghankay Taylor, speaking to the people of Bong County from prison in London. I want to urge those of you under the sound of my voice in Bong County to vote for Jewel Howard-Taylor, my former wife. I strongly believed doing so would enable her fight for my release from prison. If you still love me as your leader, kindly vote for Jewel Howard-Taylor.”
The audio sent residents of the county into frenzy and appeared to be a determinant factor in Howard-Taylor’s re-election. Supporters of Taylor, mainly youths, trooped at the station to see their former president – thinking Mr. Taylor may have been present in studio. In fact, in Gbartala, in Bong County, the base of Taylor’s former army, the Anti Terrorists Unit, some former members celebrated hearing their former president’s voice.
She won ninety per cent of the votes in Gbartala at the expense of her main challenger Henrique Tokpa, a feat residents of Gbartala claimed was due to the audio of “Charles Taylor”.
Dumoe worked for Howard-Taylor in 2014. He was involved in all the electioneering propaganda that got then Senator Howard-Taylor reelected for a second term. So, he thinks what works for the goose, works for the gander.
He has promised residents of the county that he would ensure the release of the former Liberian president. “When I am elected senator of Bong County, I will ensure that I write the court to free Charles Taylor,” Dumoe said.
He says Mr. Taylor should be released from prison to ensure peace and stability in West Africa.” Liberians are still hurt by the detention of Charles Taylor and I strongly feel we as leaders of the country should seek his unconditional release from prison.”
Dumoe says his call for Taylor’s release has been influenced by some chiefs of the county while on campaign. “The chiefs have been telling me to push for the release of Taylor and I have promised them that I would ensure that when elected.”
Dumoe in a FrontPageAfrica interview Sunday called the former Liberia president ‘freedom fighter and a visionary.’
Unlike Howard-Taylor, Dumoe has received a barrage of criticisms from residents of the county with many saying that his quest to release Charles Taylor is another political strategy to gain power at the expense of the people.
Mark Peters, ex-fighter of Taylor’s NPFL and resident of Gbarnga, described Dumoe as “political hustler” who is using the name of Taylor to gain relevance. “I really don’t trust what Dumoe is saying. I still love Taylor but I don’t think a person like Dumoe can influence the release of Taylor even if he becomes senator of the county,” he said.
Leroy Benson, a resident of Gbartala, describes Dumoe’s quest to seek the release of Taylor as ambitious and an attempt to seek popularity. “I think he’s seeking the attention from the people of Bong County. He should tell the people of Bong what better thing he has to done than to use the Charles Taylor rhetoric,” he said.
Also, Liberian journalist, Jallah Grayfield, have this to say about Dumoe’s campaign agenda.
“Charles Taylor will not be freed, rethink your strategy Dumoe! The last time I checked, Menipakei Dumoe was rallying support for AK-47 instead of rice.
“Our health facilities are in mess today. Crimes have increasingly overwhelmed us. Rapists are killing our little girls and gang raping their mothers. These are the spoils of the senseless war unleashed on us by Taylor and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and their likes.
“This is the most senseless comment I have ever heard from a so-called educated young man like Dumoe, to free a Taylor, whose actions impacted Sierra Leone negatively. Such actions spilled over to Ivory Coast, leaving Guinea to fund LURD rebels in defense of their citizens that got killed by Taylor. This is just sheer nonsense,” Jallah wrote.
Another journalist and current affairs commentator, Samuka V. Konneh, wonders who benefits if Taylor gets freed. “I wonder who benefits from that – NPFl ex-rebels or the actual people of Bong County? Really? Why does Dumoe think freedom for Taylor, a convicted war criminal, is the biggest problem faced by Bong’s people? Ohh, maybe Dumoe think every Bong person is an ex-rebel, support or beneficiary,” Samuka says.
But the politician hit back at his critics, calling them ‘idiots.’ “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The idiots criticizing me forget Nelson Mandela was once designated a terrorist by many and was even on a US travel ban listing for years. The CNN intellectuals plenty with their poor understanding of the cold war years and the many tragedies that occurred. Anyways, I stand by my statement: Free Taylor and Free him now.”
In another Facebook post, he says: “Who are you fooling? You love Yekeh Kolubah. You love EJS who funded the war. “More mortar” Sekou is cool. You even ran a Weah-TAYLOR ticket in 2017 but to free Taylor day bad thing???
Well, Dumoe calls his critics idiot; but will his voters, too, be idiots?