Liberia: Bongese Join Dumoe's 'Free Charles Taylor' Campaign

Bong County — The campaign calling on the UN-backed International Criminal Court for Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom Government, to free former Liberian President Charles Taylor from prison, seems to be gaining momentum as the people of Bong County, including supporters of the former President, joining the struggle.

The free Taylor movement is being headed by Bong County senatorial hopeful, Menipakei Dumoe. Dumoe started his struggle many months ago before expressing his interest to contest for the Senate seat come December 8th.

There have been a lot of talks in Bong County about Charles Taylor since Dumoe, one of the eight persons expected to contest in the Special Senatorial election, called for the release of the former Liberian leader.

As the December 8th election approaches, FrontPageAfrica has been talking to residents of the county. Most inhabitants, who spoke to this newspaper, expressed their love for Mr. Taylor. They really want to see him freed.

Korto Sherman, 47, of Bong Mines described the former President as a leader, who was never given the opportunity to serve Liberians well.

She added her voice to Dumoe's campaign, which seeks to call on governments of Sierra Leone, the UK and the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone to release Mr. Taylor from detention.

"We need to set the record straight and move forward, Sierra Leone and Liberia are sister countries. What affects them affects us, we are only begging them to free our son from prison for God's sake," she pleaded.

Ma Lucy Tokpah, 51, stated that she will be glad to see Charles Taylor walking on the streets of Monrovia as a free man. "When he is free, we all will be happy. We want our people in Sierra Leone know that we are appealing to them.

Another Elder in Bong Mines, Augustine Kollie, welcomed the move by Dumoe to campaign for the release of the former President.

"I believe in Menipakei Dumoe's ideology; I will join him to fight for our father, Charles Taylor, to come back home," Kollie added.

In the famous Sergeant Kollie Town (SKT), just a stone's throw from Phebe Hospital near Gbarnga in Bong County, the atmosphere was electric when Dumoe said "It is time for Charles Ghankay Taylor to come home." One of the women in the crowd removed her outer lappa and spread on the ground for Dumoe to walk on it because of his pronouncement.

Most of the older folks who spoke to this newspaper, said they were going to tell their children to join them and vote for Dumoe on December 8. According to them, Dumoe's campaign, calling for the release of Charles Taylor, who spent many years with them in Bong County, is in the right direction.

The former Liberian leader received one of the highest traditional honors in Bong. He was named 'Dakpannah,' placing him among the top chief elders and zoes of the land.

In excitement, one of the elders in SKT said, "We cannot betray Charles Taylor by voting for another person. Only Dumoe will get our votes because only Dumoe cares about our father Charles Taylor."

The excitement around Dumoe's tour of the town was exhilarating.

One of the local chiefs described other politicians in the county as "blind people" who have been ignoring the call for the release of Charles Taylor.

"When all of those big people in politics in our county join this boy and cry on those who put Taylor in jail, it will bring out our seriousness. If we sit here and allow a little boy like Dumoe to champion this cause and we don't rally around him and Taylor dies in jail, his blood will be on our hands and he will not forgive us."

Dumoe is currently seeking audience with the Sierra Leonean Embassy in Monrovia as he continues his request and appeal for the release of the former Liberian President.

On Thursday, September 10, Dumoe paid a courtesy visit at the Sierra Leone Embassy near Monrovia where he submitted a letter requesting an audience with the Ambassador.

He told this newspaper after he dropped his letter at the embassy near Monrovia, that he hopes former President Taylor can be a freed man and live freely.

"We hope that the people of Sierra Leone will listen to the plea of their Liberian brothers and sisters, calling for the release of our former President," he said.

He said he is willing to travel to Sierra Leone to have talks with representatives of that country's government.

He also urged the Liberian Government to begin negotiating with their Sierra Leonean counterpart to initiate the process that will lead to the release of Mr. Taylor.

Mr. John T. Richardson

One of Charles Taylor's best known and most eloquent defenders, John T. Richardson, has also joined Dumoe's free Charles Taylor struggle.

Richardson, who is a longtime associate of the former President, expressed his disappointment in past leaders after Taylor. According to him, those leaders have done nothing to seek for Mr. Taylor's welfare. He also voiced his displeasure that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all of Liberia's ambassadors have not checked on the welfare of the former President.

Mr. Richardson encouraged the people of Bong County to ensure that Dumoe is elected in the Senate so he can lobby with his colleagues to initiate the process at the level of Senate.

"I call on voters in Bong County to challenge anyone aspiring for political office in the county and ask them why are they not sitting on the round table to even mention the wellbeing of Charles Taylor," he added.

Free Charles Taylor Campaign Not Well with Some

Dumoe's free Taylor campaign is not going down well with some of the county's lawmakers. Representative Marvin Cole isn't happy with the call. He is support a rival to Dumoe in the Senate race.

Rep. Cole has told his supporters to chase Dumoe out when he goes to them with his free Taylor campaign.

"One little boy passing area here with the man picture and telling our people that he can free Taylor, he able to free Taylor? The jail that Taylor is in, none of us is able to free him. The man's (Taylor's) wife is the Vice President, she is not able to free him; I am a lawmaker and even, there are so many of Taylor's people at the Capitol Building, they all can't make it. Let me tell you something, if he comes in your area with nonsense talk, you should chase him out of your area," he told a huge crowd of his supporters recently in Bong County.

But Dumoe is not taking lightly the statement made by Cole. He told FrontPageAfrica that a formal complaint will be filed to the necessary authority responsible.

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