Liberia Suspends Elections In Wake Of Ebola Epidemic
Monrovia (AFP) – Ebola-hit Liberia has suspended nationwide elections in the latest measure to combat an epidemic which has shut down society in three west African nations, restricting travel and forcing the cancellation of public events.
Almost three million voters had been due to take part in Senate polls on Tuesday but organisers said there was no way a “mass movement, deployment and gathering of people” could go ahead without endangering lives.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was exercising powers under a state of emergency announced in August “to suspend… any and all rights ordinarily exercised, enjoyed and guaranteed to citizens,” the foreign office said in a statement issued late Wednesday, quoting a presidential proclamation.
Liberia, which has seen more than half of the almost 4,000 deaths so far in the outbreak ravaging west Africa, had been due to elect half of its legislative upper chamber.
The election commission said in a statement it had recommended the postponement because it could not conduct “a free, fair, transparent and credible election” because of the epidemic.
The elections are the latest casualty of an epidemic which has forced Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea to announce a nationwide state of emergency.
This obviously not the best development for Liberia’s political future, but in the midst of an epidemic such as this that has utterly devastated the country’s health system and other resources, it’s entirely understandable. They’ve got other problems right now, elections are something of a luxury.