Former Charles Taylor Aide Benoni Urey Seeks To Distance Himself From Boss

By Toweh Alphonso

Presidential hopeful, Benoni Urey, said his service during the regime of former President Charles Taylor was onto the Liberian government, not Mr. Taylor when he served as Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority.

Mr. Urey served in that capacity for almost the lifespan of the Taylor government whose administration is accused of committing untold human rights violations against Liberians and plundering the country’s resources.

Observers have had it that his association with former President Taylor could be a major hurdle to his quest to becoming President of Liberia, with Liberians blaming both former President Taylor and his associates for economic and human rights violation here between the years of the his revolution and his exiling in Nigeria (1990 – 2003).

But Urey says it is unfortunate for people to associate him with the former president, as he is not the only one who knew Taylor, pointing to President Sirleaf and many in her cabinet.

“Our present president was a colleague of Mr. Taylor; more than 30 percent of her cabinet were ministers under Taylor. I don’t understand why it would be a problem for me. I want you to be aware of one thing, I did not work for Charles Taylor; I worked for the government of Liberia. Charles Taylor government was a legitimately elected government and I worked for the Government of Liberia,” he told Voice of America.

Urey said it was about time Liberians stop putting down those who served their country in the Taylor government. After all, he pointed out, Taylor is serving almost a life sentence in Europe, and he does not understand why people would continue to tie capable leaders of Liberia to Taylor.

Mr. Urey said he was vying for the presidency to improve the living condition of all Liberians, though he refused to criticize President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government, which some say has not delivered what it promised the country more than 10 years ago.

According to him, his presidency will unite Liberians while providing the basic essentials of life, including water, shelter, and electricity, and combat corruption and nepotism. “I’m certainly desirous of being president because I want to improve the living condition of my people. I want my people to be placed among nations that are developing. For too long, our people have been in darkness. It’s about time that they move into an era of renaissance so they can see the light, where they can experience some of the basic essentials that are necessary for life in the world today,” he said.

Urey’s presidential quest was boosted recently after his All Liberian Party (ALP) by the National Elections Commission. He joins Vice President Joseph Boakai, two-time presidential contender Charles Brumskine and three-time candidate Togba-Nah Tipoteh as known contenders for the highest office of the land.

Also, Urey has reacted angrily to claims that he lacks experience to run government, describing it as “comical.” According to him, he has more political experience and education than all the candidates who are running for the presidency.

“Of all the people that will be running for the presidency, I have more political experience than them; I have more education than them; and I have more business experience and leadership experience,” Urey bragged.

Urey is a successful businessman. He’s chair of Lone Star Communications Corporation, perhaps Liberia’s largest cell phone company. He has also reportedly invested in real estate, hotel, car rental, and media. Urey is also a farmer, producing poultry and other farm products, and is estimated to be worth millions.

He claims he got most of his wealth after leaving the government, further bragging of being the largest single Liberian employer. “I am everywhere in Liberia. Even Money Changers, I am sponsoring them; Pen-Pen Boys (motorcycle taxi drivers), I am sponsoring them. I have a hand in everything in Liberia.

It is not because I need the money, but what is most satisfying to me is that I am giving a Liberians a chance to live because I also was in a position where I wanted somebody to help me start off life. I know what it is not to have money to pay tuition; I know what it is to take your father to the hospital and don’t have money to pay hospital bill; I know what it is not to have a meal on your table because I’m a product of all those difficulties,” Urey said.

“As I told you, no one group of people owns Liberia. Every tribe in this country, every religion in this country, owns Liberia. I, Benoni Urey, want you to join me in this movement to move our country forward.”

Urey pic; www.inprofiledaily.com

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