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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Liberia's leader seeks new wives
President Charles Taylor
One wife is not enough for Charles Taylor

Liberia's President Charles Taylor has said that, as a traditional leader, he is entitled to up to four wives.

He was speaking at a news conference carried live on his Kiss-FM radio station, following rumours that either he has taken a new wife in recent days or is on the verge of doing so.


I have no intention of insulting my people, I will fulfil my traditional requirement in this country

President Charles Taylor
He said the only person who should be concerned about his extra-marital affairs is his wife Jewel Howard, who, he said, was not complaining.

He lashed out at people who, he said, are trying to introduce western culture in Liberia.

Dispelling recent rumours that all was not well between him and his wife, President Taylor told journalists that he did not have any difficulties with his wife.

Teaching tradition

According to Liberian tradition, Mr Taylor said it was his wife's responsibility to "fish for a woman and bring her over to him".

"If she does not understand the tradition, we can get people here to teach her," he said of the First Lady who did not attend the news conference.

First lady, Jewel Howard
The first lady's duties apparently include looking for co-wives
Officials attending the conference burst into laughter when the president declared that it would be an insult to the traditional women of Liberia if he did not accept a wife.

"I have no intention of insulting my people, I will fulfil my traditional requirement in this country," he vowed, arguing that past leaders did the same.

Charles Taylor
1948: Born in Liberia
1960/70s: Educated in United States
1980s: Joins government, departs after fraud charges, arrested, escapes
1989: Leads rebellion
1997: Wins elections
2001: Canes daughter in public for indisipine
Referring to the former president who was killed in a military coup in 1980, President Taylor said: "Pastor William R Tolbert dowried women in this country.

"In fact, some of his women are in town now asking me for assistance."

President Taylor's long explanation fell short, however, of saying how many wives he really has at the moment, and whether the first lady has been involved in looking for prospective new brides.

 VOTE RESULTS
Are African men entitled to multiple wives?

Yes
 35.00% 

No
 65.00% 

1220 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Liberian President Charles TaylorCultural right?
Are African men entitled to multiple wives?
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14 Sep 02 | Africa
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