The opposition All Liberia Party (ALP) of businessman Benoni Urey is gaining popularity in vote-rich Nimba County, with some of his supporters claiming that he reminds them of ex-President Chalrles Taylor, who gained political relevance through an armed rebellion against the Government of Liberia on
December 24, 1989 from Buutuo, a town in Nimba County along the Liberia border with La Cote d’Ivoire. There, the first gunshot was fired and escalated into a full blown civil war that lasted 14 years. In 1997, Taylor ran for president and won by a landslide.
In a random sampling of the electorate in Ganta City, the commercial hub of Nimba County, some of those claiming to be Urey supporters are elders and some former fighters from Taylor’s disbanded rebel faction, the Naitonal Patriotic Front of Libera, who are yet to grapple with the fact that Mr. Taylor has been tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity, for which he is serving a 50-year imprisonment in the UK.
Mr. Joe Tuah, a former ‘general’ and now Urey supporter, told this paper that he is organizing a rally in the town Nyor Diaplay, close to Senator Prince Johnson’s home, in honor of Mr. Urey.
If the supporters’ allegiance to Urey is anything to consider in the upcoming elections, it could disturb the prospects of the Coalition for Democratic Change, which is already experiencing turbulence over the distribution of power among its ranks.
Another ex-fighter, Albert Paye, commonly known as Zoegweh, is said to be a strong supporter of Mr. Urey, who, among others, say Urey’s posture and the way he interacts with them are some of the qualities that reminds them of and equate him to Taylor.
Most of the respondents say they consider Mr. Urey as Taylor’s close associate or friend, since the re-burial of the late Vice President Enoch Dogolea in his home town; therefore, they say they would prefer Urey as president over any of the other aspirants.
Most of those who showed love for the ALP are elderly people, who claimed to have gone through many struggles during the country’s civil crises, and believe they see Taylor in Urey due to his physical features and how he sounds or gesticulates when addressing supporters.
“Mr. Urey knew the struggle we went through during the course of the civil uprising and when he becomes President, we think he will better address our plight than any other candidate,” said an elderly man.
“Despite the hardship during the war, Urey did not go away and this shows that he cares for the people,” another interjected.
Another reason that many of the people spoke in favor of Mr. Urey, “is his interest in agricultural innovation, where some farming groups involved in poultry farming and oil palm farming were opportune to receive some assistance.”
The ALP is one of the parties that has made its presence felt in Nimba County. The ALP Nimba branch recently donated several assorted building materials to the Muslim Community in Ganta to enable the members rehabilitate the central mosque in Ganta. The party also donated assorted items to the Saclepea LFA sub-division for the fencing of the Saclepea stadium and donated an ambulance to the Graie Community to ease transportation difficulties faced by patients there. ALP also recently opened a community radio station, called “Radio Sehtowah.”
The sampling revealed that Liberty Party is closely behind ALP, while CDC and the ruling Unity Party are rebuilding their memberships in the county. The Alternative National Congress (ANC) of Alex Cummings and the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) of Governor Mill Jones, among other parties, are still lagging behind.