Liberia 2017 Elections: Taylor’s Aide Benoni Urey Makes Push For Nimba

Hawa Wesseh

M O N R O V I A, July 22—Former Charles Taylor’s aide, ex-Maritime Commissioner, Benoni Urey, reports say is betting on the legacy of his former boss, as he makes a push for the Liberian presidency, which is two years away.

According to observers, views popular amongst the now incarcerated former president [who is in an English jail for war crimes against humanity] and his supporters, is that Taylor’s popularity has not wane in Liberia, and he could possibly win re-elections “if elections were held today,” [if he stood]. Urey has not been shy to also voice those concerns.

Even, “With a bullet to my head and a knife to my throat, I will never denounce Taylor. It’s unfortunate he is where he is today because a lot of people should be with him if we are going to hold him [accountable],” Urey is quoted to have said by the Capitol Insider, a Monrovia based news magazine.

The Liberian civil war caused about 300-thousaud deaths and displaced almost a million; it was started in Nimba County by Charles Taylor on Christmas Eve in 1989, in Butuo, Nimba County, and Urey as a principal aide to Taylor was at the very top.

Urey, according to some analysts have visited the county much more, probably than anywhere else in the country, as he stoke up- feelings associated with the Liberian war and his bid for the presidency.

Although Urey has been accused by his opponents that he benefited from his proximity to Taylor, he has denied benefiting. He was recently cleared by the United Nations to travel, and making his first trip to the United States. He traveled to Philadelphia, as he met the “Friends of Benoni Urey,” according to Jackson Seton, who covered the story for the FrontPage Africa and the Monrovia Inquirer Newspaper.

“What baffles me about Urey is his denials and lack of integrity, not to owe up to his war record, and his lack of any clear cut agenda to lead the country. There is no way he could not have gained from the Taylor’s influence. All of them did, including Lewis Brown, Edwin Snowe, Eugene Nagbe, and Reginald Goodridge, Grace Minor etc; he is smart and he knows this, but would like us to believe otherwise. All you hear is he a successful business man,” says an opponent. “He has proposed nothing significant,” he said.

Said Urey a few days ago as he campaigned in Nimba, the former Taylor strong hold, which produced two of his vice presidents, “this is our home, this place called Ganta is where we were chased by helicopter guns, we are back to our homeland,” drawing on the war sentiments. The direct quote is in reference to General Samuel Doe, who fought with Charles Taylor, until Doe was captured by Senator Prince Johnson, as Gen. Doe was butchered alive, while Prince Johnson looked on drinking beer.

Reports say, he is yet to give any serious policy speech. But he has said when he wins the presidency he will relocate West Point and Monrovia’s vast slums, but has not said how he intends to do that and what he would do to attract the necessary investment or the specificity of his policy programs to effectuate the changes he wants to see. He has also not commented constructively on the economy and how he intends to deal with Liberia’s perennial problem of corruption, ingrained in patronage, even today.

“If he has no ideas, he should not be running,” said Massaquoi Zubah, to the Liberian Listener. He said, “The former Careysburg Mayor is yet to present a clear cut agenda” to lead the country.

“This is not a time to elect people with sweet mouth, we want to be able to see, smell and taste what you have done,” he told the crowd in Nimba County, touting his success in business, as wife Mai Urey looked on. Nimba County, often referred to in the Liberian media, as “vote rich,” is in earnest where he is beginning his campaign.

He and his wife “dedicated a local bridge also named in honor of [Urey] in the County,” As the remains of Taylor’s first Vice President Enoch Dogolea was buried. Dogolea died in office in 2000 and Urey footed the bill to have him laid to rest in Nimba, moving the body from Monrovia, these gestures he hope the people of Nimba will remember as 2017 inches closer. observers say his opponents could take him on his Taylor connections, and Urey have said he welcome that.

Presidential aspirant Benoni Urey pic:

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