8 April 2014

Liberia Legislature, U.S. Embassy Disagree On Ebola

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Benoni Urey on the campaign trail for the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (file photo).

Monrovia — Barely days after Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah and Mr. Benoni Urey disagreed over the response of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia; the statements from the 53rd National Legislature and the United States Embassy near Monrovia have expressed different views on how the Ebola outbreak should be handled.

In a release issued Monday, the National Legislature amongst others specifically encouraged the Ministry of Education to adjust the academic calendar by announcing an early Easter break.

Stated the Legislature: "The Ministry of Education is hereby encouraged to adjust the academic calendar by announcing an early Easter Break nationwide, the end of which would coincide with the 45-Day control period announced by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The Ministry of Education is further encouraged to ensure that a safe environment is provided for twelfth grade students currently sitting the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations".

But the United States Embassy in an earlier statement issued April 4 said there is no need for panic amongst Liberians and foreigners alike and no medical reason to close embassies or schools.

"At this time, there is no medical reason to stop flights, close borders, restrict travel or close embassies, businesses or schools", the United States Embassy indicated.

While the Legislature also stated that the death toll from the Ebola outbreak has been increasing, the United States Embassy declared that there are only two confirmed deaths as a result of Ebola infection.

The Legislature stated "According to official statistics from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, there has been an increase in the death toll, and the number of infections and suspected cases. The Legislature therefore deems it prudent to announce to you preventive measures adopted to curb further transmission of the lethal Ebola Virus Disease".

The United Sates embassy stated that only two confirmed individuals have died from Ebola in Liberia. "The two confirmed individuals with Ebola in Liberia have both expired at this time, one in Lofa and the other in medical isolation at Duside Hospital", the US Embassy stated.

Student Union frowns at Sirleaf's absence

The student union of state run University of Liberia, also commenting on the Ebola outbreak frowned at President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her absence from the country in the midst of the Ebola crisis.

Stated ULSU "Considering the rate at which Ebola eats away the lives of its victims, any government, irrespective of how corrupt its officials and civil servants are, will adjust itself responsibly in organizing its resources and medical, human services to protect the lives of its taxpayers and citizens. This is why ULSU sees it undermining on the part of Madam Sirleaf to ignore the relevance of her presence in the country at a time when it is engulfed into very serious medical pandemonium.

Unarguably, the apparent or confirmed outbreak of Ebola in Liberia has the potential to create a state of emergency for the Republic. ULSU condemns the perpetual absence of the President on this matter and calls on the student and youth communities to join us in demanding the immediate return of Madam Sirleaf back home as she hurriedly did when her personal political and presidential position and interest were threatened by the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia and the Ellen Step Down Campaigners".

The student grouping offered support to Urey in the latest row between him and Presidential Press Secretary Piah, calling on Piah and the Executive Mansion to responsibly address concerns raised by opinions leaders and other Liberians on the Ebola crisis.

"In the face of this, it is ridiculous to hear the Presidential Press Secretary attacking others who have their undeniable rights to raise their voices on the status of the absence of their president and not Madam Sirleaf as the mother of the Press Secretary. We wish to state that public officials of intimate relationship with and functions of the President as a person and the government as the state institution must conduct their public functions free of personal emotions and political sentiments", stated ULSU.

No Money for Ebola

ULSU called on Liberia's international partners not to provide funding in fighting Ebola in the absence of a strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

Stated ULSU "ULSU is pleased with the level of information dissemination on the Ebola, health crisis, but recommends that the Minister of Health exerts the greatest concentration in rural Liberia through the dialects of our people. We call on the United Nations, the general International Community and all partners to the Liberian government to give no dime in fighting this Ebola virus without a very strong, watertight financial Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism to ensure the protection of their financial and material resources to the helpless people of Liberia".

The Ebola outbreak has now taken a political dimension with several Liberians questioning of the President to be out of the country in the wake of such emergency situation. Amongst the views, Benoni Urey said the absence of the President means she does not care for Liberia and its people, but Press Secretary Piah quickly hit back describing Urey as a man who does not know the elementary principles of the presidency.

"Another issue is that if a person who desires the Presidency of Liberia does not understand these simple, elementary principles of the presidency, such person we advise better should remain selling their scratch cards and making their farms other than having the naked desire for the presidency when he or she does not understand.

Mr. Urey as reflected clearly from his utterance, he has gross limitations in understanding the intricacies of the presidency, a fault he has exposed as a result of his loose comments".

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