Liberia ex-fighters in push to reopen Charles Taylor farm
More than 1,000 former fighters of Charles Taylor’s defunct Anti-Terrorist Unit last weekend joined an effort to revive the former Liberian strongman's abandoned 6,000 acre farm.
Scored of residents in the central Bong County were seen working on the land as they sang songs in support of Taylor.
The farm is located on the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway about 65 kilometres from the capital Monrovia.
"Ay Taylor, we like you oh Taylor, that’s the fact," they sang. Taylor is currently in detention in The Hague after being convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Taylor has appealed against the 50 years sentence handed down against him by the court.
The farm has been abandoned since 2002 after fighters of the defunct rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) wrested the provincial capital Gbarnga from Taylor’s rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).
Before its closure the farm was a major source of employment for citizens of Bong County.
Unconfirmed reports reaching the capital Monrovia say war crimes convict Taylor has made available $1 million to reopen the farm.
The reports say Taylor’s younger brother Adolphus Taylor and two former elite members of Taylor’s NPFL, Adolphus Dolo and Kuku Dennis, were seen Saturday supervising workers on the farm.
Media reports quote a former general of Taylor’s defunct NPFL, Martha Benson who is serving as cook for the workers, as saying the reopening of the farm marked a turning point in her life.
"For Charles Taylor to be jailed and still be thinking on how to employ his supporters means he is a true patriot that will never be forgotten," Ms Benson is quoted as saying.
She said the farm would empower ex-combatants whose livelihood continues to worsen due to the lack of jobs in the country.