23rd October 2017
Charles Taylor Pulls Liberia's Election Strings from London Prison!!
By Charlotte Attwood (07/10/17)
Liberia's presidential election takes place on October 10 and it seems former President Charles Taylor is impacting it from a London prison.
Liberia's former President Charles Taylor is currently serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes in a prison in the British city of Durham. But is he using that as a base to interfere in the elections in his homeland next Tuesday? (Photo: Front runner George Oppong Weah and running mate Jewel Howard Taylor, Charles Taylor's wife).
"If he was to come back today, I'd roll out the red carpet," said Justin Luther Cassell, a 32-year-old man sitting outside the Pray for Peace Business Centre in Gbartala, central Liberia. Gathered round on plastic chairs, drinking beer and discussing the forthcoming Liberian elections, the men here are clearly frustrated.
The former military base may be crumbling, with buildings almost completely engulfed by the jungle, but Taylor's name is still as strong as ever in Bong county.
More than five years since the former president was sentenced for war crimes committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone, people in his heartland are still harking back to the old days.
"Even with the sound of the gun, life was better," said one frustrated young man, bemoaning the lack of basic necessities in the country.
FOOTBALL AND POLITICS
In an unlikely alliance, former world footballer of the year George Weah, who is running on the presidential ballot for the third time, has chosen Taylor's ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, as his deputy. Having historically been a staunch critic of Taylor and his National Patriotic Party (NPP), questions are being asked of the motives.
Liberian presidential candidate George Weah from the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and running mate Jewel Howard Taylor, former wife of convicted former president Charles Taylor, always seen waving to supporters during campaign rallies.
The union between Mr Weah's Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the NPP came just before a phone call from the former warlord was broadcast to a gathering of his supporters on his birthday in January this year.
The call was made from inside a high-security prison in Durham. He is heard saying that "this revolution is his life", he advises his people not to betray the party: "Go back to base and everything will be fine."
Rodney Sieh, editor of Front Page Africa - the Liberian paper that published the call - said he was sure that Taylor knew that "he was speaking to an audience".
Taylor wanted his people to know that he was still relevant, according to Mr Sieh. "He still wants his voice heard" in the Liberian political scene, he said. 'I'll be back'
Mrs Howard Taylor has made her allegiance to her ex-husband clear. In an interview with local journalists outside a campaign rally, she said that the country needed to get back to the "agenda" outlined by Taylor when he was president. But she denied that he was influencing the 2017 elections.
Courtesy: By Charlotte Attwood, BBC Africa, Monrovia