21 August 2014

Liberia: Curfew Unnecessary - Chief Cyril Allen

The chairman emeritus of the former ruling National Patriotic Party has uprightly condemned the curfew imposed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday night.

Chief Cyril Allen said that the curfew is an act of extremism and unnecessary, noting that curfew cannot help in the campaign against Ebola neither should the government deploy armed soldiers in the streets to combat the virus.

Speaking to The NewDawn on Wednesday afternoon via mobile phone, he said the declaration of curfew clearly tells the Liberian people the country faces a serious security problem and they need to know what actually is happening instead using Ebola as a cover up.

"If there is any security problem, I think the President should be in the position to tell us [so] that every Liberian or resident can be on the alert. But shifting curfew on Ebola I don't see a rationale; it only creates more panic and tension in the minds of Liberians or the government is just reminding the people about the ugly past?" he asked.

Chief Allen said the Ebola fight should not be taken as a civil war to send the army and the police in the streets, adding, "With heavily armed military and special police forces patrolling the streets and the principle shopping center "Waterside Market" closed down; 9pm to 6am curfew in place are unacceptable. The Liberian people do not deserve this."

According to him, President Sirleaf might have been misled by her security officials. "Security personnel always used these situations to exploit the administration, which should be the case with the current curfew."

He noted that government has imposed curfew and quarantined West Point and Dolo Town, are actions that citizens are required to obey. "I will obey the curfew to the letter, but yet will not be deterred from asking some questions from the authorities."

Chief Allen stressed that the poor mothers and their children in West Point have rights to food and health care, cautioning that the government is militarizing the fight against Ebola and Liberians should look back to history.

He called on the government to account for the US$5 million allotted for the Ebola fight, pointing out that, "There are no drugs in the hospitals, no ambulances so, where the monies were spent?"

Meanwhile, police in Monrovia fired tear gas at protesters who were upset that the government has quarantined their community to fight the spread of Ebola.

Residents of West Point shouted and threw stones at security forces after they surrounded the area on Wednesday. Some people complained they had received no warning of the newly-imposed quarantine and expressed concern that they would not be able to get food. On Tuesday night, President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf ordered the quarantine of West Point Township and Dolo Town in Margibi County.

In an address late Tuesday, she said the measures were "meant to save lives." She also said her government has been having difficulties in controlling the spread of the Ebola virus, because of "continued denials, cultural burying practices" and a "disregard" of advice from health care workers.

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