5 September 2014

Liberia Suspends Poro and Sande Practice in Wake of Ebola

Monrovia — The Ministry of Internal Affairs says its attention has been drawn to reports of the continued operation of Poro and Sande societies in several parts of the country, and declares this as a violation of the moratorium placed on the operation of Poro and Sande Societies on June 2, 2014.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs through its Bureau of Customs and Culture and in collaboration with the National Council of Chiefs and Elders recently announced the immediate suspension of all Poro and Sande activities throughout Liberia.

The Ministry said its decision then and now was intended to ensure that there was no outbreak of the Ebola virus in any Poro or Sande grove in Liberia. This would be a disaster, the Ministry said in its statement, and continue, it must be prevented in the interest of saving additional lives of our fellow citizens. The Ministry states that in spite of its demonstration of understanding and accommodation, some individuals have continued to operate Poro and Sande Groves and conduct cultural festivals.

The Ministry, in a press release signed by Minister Morris Dukuly, said the continued operation of Poro and Sande Societies in the face of the Ebola epidemic exposes citizens increase incidents of the virus and untimely death, and therefore directs that all such practices must cease and be seen to have ceased by September 17, 2014.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs say any grove which operates or reopens its doors to initiate persons will be seen to be in defiance of its General Circular No. 13 and its most recent statement reaffirming the provisions of the General Circular. The Ministry of Internal Affairs says the two-week extension it is granted under this statement is to allow the smooth closure of all Poro and Sande Societies operating in Liberia, and not an extension of the term of existing groves.

In the statement, the Ministry therefore says that any grove or society found operating beyond the September 17, 2014, date would be ordered immediately closed in keeping with cultural, traditional practices, and its guidelines and regulations, while persons operating such groves will be prosecuted under the laws of Liberia.

The Minister of Internal Affairs is therefore authorizing all county Superintendents, District Commissioners, County Inspectors, and other appropriate local government officers to ensure full compliance with this directive, and to close uncooperative Sande and Poro Societies upon the expiration of the two-week extension period.

Concluding, the press release states that the Minister of Internal Affairs has written to inform Chief Zanzan Karwor, Chairman of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders, of the directive, and request the full cooperation of his council.

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