SENT TO COCORIOKO BY THE LIBERIAN NEWS AGENCY ( LINA )
PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF
Liberian Senate Endorses State Of Emergency
By Hilary Vasco Wiagbe
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) –The Liberian Senate has unanimously endorsed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s request to the Upper House to concur on the imposition of a State of Emergency as part of measures to contain the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.
The Senate endorsed the imposition of the State of Emergency Friday after more than five hours of intensive deliberations on the issue.
According to the Liberia News Agency (LINA), Senators noted that there was a dire need to impose the State of Emergency as the outbreak of the Ebola virus poses serious danger to the country and its people.
President Sirleaf in a communication dated August 7, 2014 requested the National Legislature to concur on the institution of the State of Emergency in the spirit of cooperation that exist amongst the three branches, giving the gravity of the situation at hand.
At the same time, the Liberian Senate has concurred with the House of Representatives in passing a resolution on the imposition of the State of Emergency.
Two thirds of the membership of the Lower House on Friday passed the resolution as required by the Constitution, with 52 for, three against and two abstentions in a Special Session.
Ebola Spreads To Eight Counties
By Calvin Brooks
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – Information Minister Lewis G. Brown has disclosed that the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) has now spread to eight of Liberia’s 15 counties.
Minister Brown named the counties as Montserrado, Margibi, Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Bomi, Cape Mount and River Cess.
Speaking on the Liberia Broadcasting System’s Super Morning Show Friday via telephone, he said the eight counties are expected to be put under “Operation White Shield” under the State of Emergency declared by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Wednesday.
He said since the Ebola virus is transmitted through human contact, checkpoints to be set up under “Operation White Shield” will have medical teams to examine people moving from one point to another to ensure that uninfected counties are not infected as government tries to contain the spread of Ebola in the country.
He pointed out that the deployment of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) at the various entry points is intended to restrict the movement of people from one county to another to prevent the rapid spread of the deadly virus.
Minister Brown stressed that government is instituting these measures to ensure that Liberians are scrutinized, monitored and treated if any illnesses are confirmed through medical examination at the various checkpoints
VP Boakai Meets Liberians in Washington D.C, Talks On Ebola
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) -Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has engaged Liberians residing in Washington D.C. and its suburbs in a three-hour Town Hall dialogue on the prevailing Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
Speaking at the Town Hall dialogue on Wednesday, VP Boakai indicated that it was the responsibility of Government officials visiting countries around the world to meet with and update citizens abroad about the situation back home.
He reminded the gathering that his Town Hall meeting held at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. was not meant for the usual political undertones, noting that the gathering was meant to inform Liberians about the Ebola disease that was gradually becoming lethal in the country.
According to a dispatch, the Vice President also gave an update of interventions and actions that Government and its partners are taking to combat the spread of the disease.
The Liberia Broadcasting System’s Director General, Darryl Ambrose Nmah, provided information about the affected counties and updated them on the number of persons that have succumbed to the disease so far as well as those confirmed with the virus, giving Liberians in the U.S. a clearer picture of the Ebola crisis in the country and its people.
The Liberian Vice President spoke about all of the emergency measures taken so far by Government to combat the spread of the virus, including the establishment of a National Task Force on Ebola, the launch of a National Action Plan and an initial contribution of US$5 million to immediately begin the implementation of the plan to fight the disease.
He also named the temporary suspension of work for all non-essential staff at government ministries and agencies for 30 days, restriction on public gatherings, closure of market places at major border points, the closure all border points, excluding the Roberts International and James Spriggs Payne Airports, the Bo Waterside, Ganta and the Foya Crossing Points, as well as measures put in place at designated entry and exit border points to safeguard the public and prevent further spread of the virus.
Other measures Vice President highlighted were the disinfection of public places, temporary closure of all schools, restriction of travels for government officials with limited exceptions, increased outreach, awareness and sensitization, decentralization of the national effort to combat the virus, standing orders to the security forces to help enforce the orders, new travel measures, and most recently, the declaration of a State of Emergency.
He praised the efforts of the non-governmental organizations, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Samaritan Purse; World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, as well as other international and local partners that have stood by the Liberian Government and people in combating the spread of the disease.
Most especially, the Vice President paid tribute to all health care workers – doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians, paramedics, volunteers – who have either died or fallen ill due to the Ebola virus.
He also acknowledged the excellent work of all foreign health workers, including the two Ebola infected Americans now back in the U.S., the chief administrator of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, late Cameroonian Dr. Patrick Nshamdze; the late Ugandan Dr. Sam Mutooro Muhumuza, Liberian Dr. Samuel Brisbane, and all others aiding the Ebola fight.
The Liberian Vice President urged his fellow compatriots in the Diaspora to develop a spirit of cooperation with the Government and people of Liberia and thanked them for the level to cooperation thus far in the Ebola fight.
Vice President Boakai reiterated that all of the natural and man-made disasters around the world have never defined the countries affected and thus called on Liberians both at home and abroad not to allow the Ebola conflict to define Liberia.
“This too shall come to pass and Liberia will surely be normal and back on its feet. Let us hold together and don’t allow the Ebola outbreak to define us and our country,” VP Boakai urged.
He briefed the audience about the situation concerning the late Finance Ministry consultant Patrick Sawyer and informed them that on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Meeting, he met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, where he expressed regrets for the unfortunate situation with Mr. Sawyer which landed the virus in Nigeria.
Earlier, Liberian Ambassador to the U.S. Jeremiah Sulonteh welcomed the Vice President and Liberians to the Town Hall dialogue and briefed them on initiatives undertaken by the Embassy to gather support for the country’s fight against the deadly Ebola virus.
He presented an initial amount of US$15,000 to the Liberian Vice President on behalf of Liberians in the United States.
A long period of questions and answers followed the Vice President’s presentation with Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan, Presidential Legal Adviser Cllr. Seward Cooper, Commerce Minister Axel Addy, Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell and National Investment Commission chairman Michael Wortorson permitted by the Vice President to provide inputs on some of the questions with bearing on their sector.
Meanwhile, the Indiana University has memorialized fallen Liberian Doctor Samuel Brisbane for his courageous and dedicated service to his fellow countrymen.
The Department of International Affairs of the University on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 named a building on one of its campuses in his honor.
The representative of the University at the Town Hall meeting also announced the design of long-term projects to enhance medical infrastructures in Liberia and requested a point of contact for the initiative.
Meanwhile, the Vice President will be engaged with a larger segment of Liberians in the U.S. when he is hosted by an online Liberian Media Network called the Liberia Destiny Debaters.
He will later address a function of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda with reference to the Common African Position. The Vice President’s intervention will focus on Peace and Security.
Speaker Tyler Chides Citizens Over Action Against Health Workers
By David Seedee, LINA Bomi County Correspondent
TUBMANBURG, August 8 (LINA) – House Speaker Alex J. Tyler has condemned the attitude of some citizens of Momoh and Beasir Towns in Klay District, Bomi County against health workers who had gone to spray the town against the deadly Ebola virus.
Speaker Tyler, who himself hails from Bomi County, said stopping health workers from disinfecting towns where cases of Ebola had been reported is “unacceptable”.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Tubmanburg, Speaker Tyler said it was not wrong for health workers to disinfect towns where cases of the deadly Ebola virus have been reported because the exercise is intended to protect the lives of the citizens.
Speaker Tyler, who represents Klay District in the House of Representatives, said the fight to eradicate the deadly disease from Liberia requires the total support and involvement of all citizens of the county and Liberia as a whole.
He urged Bomi County citizens to always be on the safe side and help the government in its effort to eradicate the disease from the country.
Defense Minister Calls On Businesses To Aid Ebola Fight
By Wilfred Gortor
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai has called on private companies and business entities operating in the country to contribute towards the effort to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
The Defense Minister said the country is currently in need of assistance from every sector of society to enable it contain the Ebola outbreak.
He made the appeal Thursday at the Ministry of Information regular weekly press briefing in the ministry’s conference hall in Monrovia.
Minister Samukai said his appeal was line with his duty as a government official and also a citizen who thinks that Liberia’s current health crisis must be the collective responsibility of every citizen and business entity in the country.
“If you help us with water, with rice for the police and army or gas to keep our generators running at hospitals and radio stations, we will appreciate your effort,” he said.
According to him, Liberia can also be like its neighboring Guinea where corporate businesses are donating cash as well as items to the Guinean government in its fight against Ebola.
“If you have been saying that Liberia is a friend to you, it is the time to make your presence felt. If you are our partner we now need you… this is the time for you to prove that you love us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister Samukai has lauded friendly governments, international partners and NGOs that have so far assisted Liberia as the country endeavors to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.
Senator Foresees Food Shortage In Bomi
By Winnie Dixon (Intern)
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson has observed that the county runs the risk of experiencing food shortage due to the ‘abrupt restriction of movement’ placed on the citizens by the State of Emergency.
The Senator expressed the concern Thursday during regular session, noting that the restriction on the movement of citizens will negatively impact their “search for daily bread,” according to the Liberia News Agency.
Senator Johnson said security officers at the Klay Checkpoint were stopping people from some parts of the county, who had gone to Duala in Monrovia and other markets to buy goods, from re-entering the county even before the state of emergency was declared.
Johnson said as a result of these measures, basic commodities in the county, like fuel, rice, oil and gasoline, are being purchased wholesale by those who can afford, while the majority who cannot afford will soon experience a food crisis as prices of commodities skyrocket.
He noted that even though a state of emergency is crucial at a time like this, it must be accompanied by an action by the government to address the basic needs of the people.
Bomi County is located in the northwestern Liberia and borders Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Montserrado counties.
It has a population of over 82,000, with most residents dependent on agriculture for a livelihood.
MOD Launches “Operation White Shield”
By Prince Nagbe &Wilfred Gortor
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – The Ministry of National Defense has launched “Operation White Shield” to provide security in places targeted as Ebola-affected areas.
It is an effort to fulfill the President’s declaration of the State of Emergency aimed at containing the Ebola virus, according to the Liberia News Agency.
Explaining the operation to journalists at the Ministry of Information regular weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Monrovia on Thursday, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai said it is intended to support policy decisions of the National Taskforce on Ebola.
He noted that “Operation White Shield”, which is already in progress, is divided into four taskforces based in designated areas.
He said Taskforce One is be based in Montserrado and Margibi counties to respond to any incident that requires the presence of the force, while Taskforce Two is already based in Lofa County, with its headquarters in Foya, where the Ministry of Health has built an Ebola Treatment Center.
According to the Defense Minister, some personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) will also be assigned at various border points such as Solomba and Mendicorma to ensure that there is no further entry and exit of persons or group of persons not cleared by healthcare workers.
Samukai further disclosed that the operation will also deploy men in Voinjama to support civil administration and the hospital there as well as healthcare workers and will also make its presence felt in nearby areas.
He said Taskforce Three will be posted in Bomi County where it will provide very limited movement outside of the county to identify, trace, and maintain surveillance and in some cases quarantine individuals who may have fled as a result of fear and denial.
Minister Samuka said Taskforce Four is in Grand Cape Mount County, specifically Sinje, Robertsport and Bo Waterside, to also provide support to healthcare workers in those places, making sure they perform their duties.
The Defense Minister urged politicians to avoid political interference in the operations of the military as political interference will not be tolerated by the forces at those places of assignment.
The National Defense Chief said the operation is also intended to provide security to all healthcare workers and institutions by making sure they perform their work unhindered by any person or group of persons and ensure their safety in the discharge of their duties.
According Minister Samuka, part of the mandate of the personnel of the AFL positioned in the localities earmarked is to avoid the influx of people from one place to another whether or not they are infected with the disease.
The Defense Minister said “Operation White Shield” is also intended to support quality decisions, specifically to the containment of the spread of Ebola, in areas identified by the Ministry of Health under the Public Health Law for the common good of the society.
“Our intent is to also support civil administrations in the various localities where we are assigned and to facilitate uninhibited movement of health personnel in the delivery of urgently needed services to our people,” Samukai asserted.
Politicians Reject Microphone Over Ebola Fear
By Wilfred Gortor
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – A meeting of the National Elections Commission (NEC), political party and independent candidates degenerated into a scene of fear over Ebola transmission through a microphone being shared by all speakers.
According to the Liberia News Agency, after the meeting was called to order by the NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoyah, who elaborated on the agenda, the floor was immediately opened for discussions.
After several participants made their inputs using a microphone, but the atmosphere suddenly changed when one participant raised concern over the possible danger of spreading the Ebola virus with several people holding and speaking through one microphone.
“We are all holding this one microphone to speak. We have to be careful before we contract Ebola because that is how the virus can also spread from person-to-person,” he said.
The NEC boss and many of the participants immediately realized the logic of the argument and everyone in the hall immediately decided that the microphone be placed back on its stand at the podium.
The microphone was immediately recalled, and all the remaining participants went on the platform and made their contributions without the microphone.
Meanwhile, those that previously held the microphone, ordered a can of sanitizer which was circulated among the audience with everybody eager to have a drop in their palm.
Rep. Chambers Urges Stern Action Against Profiteers
By Hilary Vasco Wiagbe
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – Maryland County Representative Bhofal Chambers has stressed the need for government to halt the arbitrary hike in the prices of basic commodities by unscrupulous business entities amidst the Ebola virus outbreak in the country.
Representative Chambers said he has observed that some business entities and individuals are using the situation of the Ebola outbreak to arbitrarily increase prices to the detriment of the Liberian people.
In an interview with the Liberia News Agency Thursday, Chambers emphasized that in this sad chapter of the nation’s history, there was no need for the business community to exploit the people with impunity.
He stressed that it was time for the business community to exhibit a high degree of nationalism and patriotism and reduce prices even without the intervention of the government.
Chambers noted that it would be in the interest of Liberians were the government to take prompt and concrete steps to arrest the situation, especially under the State of Emergency.
The lawmaker argued that the Liberian people did not create the prevailing health situation, and as such there was no need for the business community to make life unbearable for them by hiking prices.
He added that government needs to act now to rescue the people from the hands of those who are bent on making things difficult for them by taking action against profiteers.
“All Must Get Involved In Ebola Fight,” says CDC official
By Richard Stephens
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – An official of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has said that the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia requires the involvement of all citizens, irrespective of political persuasion.
CDC Secretary General Nathaniel McGill said Liberians are dying in their numbers from the virus everyday and as such it behooves all Liberians to see reason to join the Government in preventing the spread of the virus to non-affected areas.
According to the Liberia News Agency, the CDC official made the call in an interview with reporters on the compound of the National Elections Commission in Monrovia, where he had gone to attend a NEC consultative meeting with political party and independent candidates vying in the Mid-term Senatorial Elections.
McGill said it was not time for anyone to play politics with the ongoing epidemic, adding, “We as Liberians must exert joint efforts to eradicate the virus from our midst.”
He appealed to Liberians to follow all safety measures that the Ministry of Health would put in place, saying that the existence of the Ebola virus in Liberia is real.
Grand Gedeh Sets Up 14-Man Ebola Task Force
By Chris Nyenapee, LINA Grand Gedeh County Correspondent
ZWEDRU CITY, August 8 (LINA) – A14-man Task Force to help prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Grand Gedeh County was Friday set up by Superintendent Peter L. Solo.
The county level Task Force, chaired by Superintendent Solo, comprises the Liberia National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, UNMIL, Christian and Muslim communities and the Liberia National Red Cross Society of Liberia.
The Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Olaska W. Barh, told the Liberia News Agency Friday that he Task Force was set up following a lengthy meeting during which citizens and residents of Grand Gedeh were given updates by the health authorities in the county about the disease.
Barh said the work of the committee is to disseminate information about Ebola in order to prevent it from entering Grand Gedeh, one of several counties not yet hit by the disease.
Dolo, Others Guilty In Drug Case
By Richard Stephens & Comfort M. Johnson
MONROVIA August 8 (LINA) – Five persons, including a senior police officer, were Friday found guilty of unlawful possession of narcotics and criminal facilitation by the Criminal Court “C” of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
It took the Petit Jurors of four females and two males a little over two hours of deliberation to unanimously find Police Officer Perry Dolo, Mohammed Bah, Augustine Saah, Sekou Rogers and Cyrus Slawon, guilty of the crimes, according to the Liberia News Agency.
It will be recalled the five were arrested with 10 bags of marijuana valued at L$3 million at the Tienne checkpoint in Grand Cape Mount County using a police presidential escort vehicle at 2:00 a.m. on November 9, 2013.
Following police preliminary investigation during which the accused denied the charges levied against them, the trial began at the Criminal Court “C” early this year.
During closing argument earlier, lead prosecutor Theophilus Gould told the jurors “to put the country first” and come up with a guilty verdict, because “these guys are guilty of the crimes.”
Defense Counsel Arthur Johnson cautioned the jurors not to be carried away by others’ sentiments, but to find the accused not guilty because “there were no evidences to find them guilty.”
Presenting the case to the jurors for deliberation, Judge Yusuf Kaba, told them not to be moved by the presentations of both prosecution and defense lawyers, but peruse the documents and other evidence “very closely” and render a judgment shy of partiality.
However, after two hours of deliberation in the jury room, the jurors came down with a unanimous verdict against all the defendants.
While Counselor Gould hailed the verdict, on the other hand, Atty. Johnson said that his clients’ rights were violated during police investigation into the case, adding that the defense team will meet to decide the next course of action in the interest of their clients.
Meanwhile, Judge Kaba has said final verdict in the case will be rendered on Thursday, August 14, 2014.
President Sirleaf Declares State Of Emergency Over Ebola
By Prince Nagbe
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a State of Emergency throughout the country as “an extraordinary measure” aimed at curbing further spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
She said the State of Emergency will be forwarded to the National Legislature accompanied by an explanation of the facts and circumstances leading to the declaration as required by law.
According to President Sirleaf, the declaration of the State of Emergency, which is in line with Article 86 A and B of the Constitution, will be in force for the period of 90 days beginning Wednesday, August 6.
She made the declaration Wednesday in a State of the Nation address broadcast from the state-owned Liberia Broadcasting System in Monrovia.
President Sirleaf said the ramifications and consequences of the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) “now constitute unrest and are affecting the security and wellbeing of the country amounting to a clear and present danger.”
She observed that actions allowed by Statutes under Public Health Law are no longer adequate to deal with the Ebola epidemic as comprehensive and holistic as the outbreak requires.
The President also noted that the scope and skill of the epidemic as well as the severity and deadliness of the virus now exceed the statutory responsibility of any one government ministry or agency.
The Liberian leader pointed out that in the midst of these circumstances, the ‘State of Emergency’ is important for the survival of the nation and the protection of the lives of the people of Liberia, adding, “The Government and people of Liberia in this national crisis require extraordinary measures.”
President Sirleaf said the government will under the State of Emergency also institute other extraordinary measures such as suspending certain rights and privileges as mandated by the Constitution if need be.
Lower House Endorses State of Emergency
By Hilary Vasco Wiagbe
MONROVIA, August 7(LINA) -The House of Representatives has concurred with the Executive branch of Government in instituting a State of Emergency as a result of the outbreak of the killer Ebola virus in the country.
The lawmakers made the concurrence Thursday after the reading of a communication from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addressed to Speaker J. Alexander Tyler, in which she officially informed the body about the institution of the State of Emergency.
According to the Liberia News Agency (LINA), President Sirleaf told the Legislators that the scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus, make it clear that the mission to contain the disease now exceeds the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government ministry or agency.
The Chief Executive also noted that the ramifications and consequences of the Ebola disease now constitute an unrest affecting the existence, security and well-being of Liberia, amounting to a clear and present danger.
Concluding, President Sirleaf stressed: “It is my hope that in the spirit of cooperation that exists amongst our three branches and the gravity of the situation at hand, the National Legislature will concur on the institution of this State of Emergency.”
Following the reading of the communication, 38 lawmakers voted for the concurrence and four against with two abstentions after Montserrado County Representative, Edward Forh, made a motion for the House to see reason to immediately concur with the President considering the urgency of the issue.
After the voting process, Representative Thomas Fallah filed a motion for reconsideration on grounds that issues like the interest of health workers and civil servants, among others, were not addressed in the President’s letter.
Forh rejected Fallah’s motion for reconsideration, and restated his motion for concurrence, after which 40 voted in favor and three against and one abstention.
Senate To Decide On State of Emergency Friday
By Winnie T. Dixon
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – The President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Gbehzohngar M. Findley, says the Senate will make its decision on the State of Emergency declared by the President on Friday, August 8.
He made the pronouncement on Thursday, August 7, following the reading of the President’s letter on her declaration of a state of emergency in the country to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola disease.
A state of emergency, according to Article 86(b) of the Liberian Constitution, may be declared by the President in consultation with the National Legislature when there is a national crisis
The Pro-Tempore did not give any reasons why the decision will be made Friday.
During the Plenary regular sitting, many senators expressed concern over the manner in which the State of Emergency is being handled even though the National Legislature has not made any formal acceptance of the declaration.
Senator Prince Johnson said he will not vote in favor of the emergency if nothing is done to meet the basic needs of the people, such as food, shelter and clothing, while Senator Nyonblee Lawrence is opting for the government to re-define movements as enshrined in the emergency document.
The Senators noted that the government should allow the movement of communication firms to carry fuel and recharge cards to other counties to ensure that people keep in touch with their friends and families, while the exportation of food commodities to affected counties must also be considered, before things become chaotic.
The President on August 7 wrote the Senate for its endorsement of a State of Emergency which, among other things, seeks to restrict movements into areas not yet affected by the virus to prevent its spread.
It also seeks to quarantine persons and communities confirmed to be epicenters of the Ebola virus and to increase sensitization of the citizenry on the effects and measures to contain the disease.
Pres. Obama Commits To Help Halt WA Ebola Spread
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – U.S. President Barrack Obama has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to stand by Liberia and the West African region in the fight against the deadly Ebola disease.
Speaking with Vice President Joseph Boakai Tuesday night at a White House dinner with African leaders attending the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, DC, Obama promised that the US will provide technical, material and financial support to help eradicate Ebola from Liberia and the sub-region.
According to a dispatch from Washington DC, the U.S. President also re-emphasized the commitment of his government to support the fight against the Ebola epidemic now plaguing the sub-region when he addressed the formal opening of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday at the State Department, the venue of the Summit.
“I deeply regret the absence of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone due to the outbreak of Ebola in their countries. America will do everything in its power to ensure that the virus is contained in Liberia and West Africa,” President Obama assured.
He also thanked leaders of the African continent for attending the summit and pledged to aid the continent’s growth and development, committing U.S. assistance.
Responding at the White House dinner on Tuesday, Vice President Boakai thanked the Government and people of the United States for its support to Liberia and apprised Mr. Obama of the steps the Liberian Government has taken to curb the spread of the Ebola virus in the country.
He said the Ebola outbreak is overwhelming the limited health systems and resources of the country, but emphasized that the Liberian people are determined to curtail the spread of the disease.
Vice President Boakai is in the US leading the Liberian Government’s delegation at President Obama’s US-Africa Leaders Summit.
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that it will be deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to West Africa to coordinate the U.S. Government’s response to the Ebola outbreak, which has so far sickened more than 1,600 people, including nearly 900 who have died from the disease.
According to information circulated to delegates attending the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, USAID announced an additional US$5 million in assistance to help ramp up the international community’s Ebola response efforts.
Specifically, this funding will go towards the expansion of Ebola outbreak programs the Agency is already supporting in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the release said.
It also said these programs will help trace people who may be infected with the disease, as well as provide health clinics and households with hygiene kits, soap, bleach, gloves, masks, and other supplies to help prevent the spread of disease.
Vice President Boakai and delegation ate expected to meet Liberians in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. areas at a Town Hall Meeting scheduled at the Trinity Episcopal Church on Piney Branch Road in Washington.
He is also expected to speak to Liberians across the United States when he appears as a Special Guest on a popular online radio program hosted by the Liberia Destiny Debaters based in the US.
Liberia Among Six Countries To Get WB US$5b For Power
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – Liberia is among six African countries expected to benefit from US$5 billion new technical and financial support for energy projects under the auspices of the World Bank Group.
The other countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, which have partnered with U.S. President Barack Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, according to a World Bank media release.
Making the announcement on the second day of the 1st US-Africa Summit, World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, said the new financial commitment was urgently needed to generate more electricity for the people of Africa, 600 million of whom have no access to electricity.
He said this was despite the fact that Africa possesses some of the world’s largest hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar potential, as well as significant oil and natural gas reserves.
“We think that the U.S. Power Africa Initiative will play an extremely important role in achieving the goal of providing electricity for Africa. So today, I’m very pleased to announce that the World Bank Group, following President Obama’s lead, will partner with Power Africa by committing $5 billion in direct financing, investment guarantees, and advisory services for project preparation in Power Africa’s six initial partner countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania,” Kim said.
The U.S. government and the World Bank Group are working now on specific tasks and milestones which could help to achieve one quarter of Power Africa’s goal of generating 10,000 megawatts of new power in Sub Saharan Africa,” Kim said.
According to the release, Africa’s power crisis forces families and communities to spend significant amounts of their income on costly and unhealthy forms of energy, such as diesel generators or wood for indoor cooking fires. Africa has vast hydropower potential but uses just 8 percent of this untapped water force.
The release said, in comparison, Western Europe uses 85 percent of its available hydropower potential, which has contributed to their economic development and industrialization.
“Like Europe and the rest of the world, Africa deserves the same opportunity to exploit this green source of power to improve the lives and economic prospects of its people,” said the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop.
“Beyond building up power generators, they must be connected to the market, which calls for regional cooperation to build the transmission network. We are working with African leaders and their development partners to create power pools in Africa’s East, West, Central, and Southern sub-regions.
Those countries with abundant geothermal, gas, hydro, solar, and wind resources can feed their excess power supply into a common pool, while neighboring states with less energy and generation capacity can benefit from this integrated approach to delivering electricity to their people. “ LINA TSS/PTK
Gov’t Frees 60 Inmates At Overcrowded Central Prison
By Comfort Johnson (Intern)
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) -About 60 pre-trial inmates with non-violent records were Wednesday released by the Justice Ministry from the Monrovia Central Prison due to overcrowding at the facility.
According to the Liberia News Agency, the ministry took the decision following series of consultations amongst judicial authorities, and also taking into consideration the outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease in the country.
Speaking during the release of the detainees Wednesday, the Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Betty Lamin-Blamo, said the Justice Ministry was concerned about overcrowding at the prison, especially as the nation battles the deadly Ebola disease.
Lamin-Blamo said during a meeting with Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, it was agreed that convicts with non-violent records, who have been in detention without trial, be released in keeping with law.
Stipendiary Magistrates from various magisterial courts within and outside Monrovia submitted names of pre-trial detainees that were qualified for release.
Some of the detainees’ offenses range from misapplication of entrusted property and criminal misconduct to disorderly conduct and theft of property.
Other offenders whose crimes are complex were sent to the probation division of the Justice Ministry for checkup as provided by law.
Lamin-Blamo urged the detainees to view their release as an opportunity to reunite with people in their communities and advised them to always demonstrate good behavior.
She clarified that those released did not include first degree felons such as armed robbers, murderers and rapists.
No Ebola Case in District #4, Says District Supt.
By Johnson Liway, LINA Grand Bassa County Correspondent
BUCHANAN, August 7 (LINA) – Superintendent Gus Garmondeh of District # 4 in Grand Bassa County says there is no confirmed or suspected Ebola case in the district.
He told the Liberia News Agency Wednesday that he has travelled to many parts of the district with members of the team sensitizing residents on measures issued by the Health Ministry to prevent contracting the Ebola virus.
He praised county authorities and the Bassa County Health Team for the awareness campaign also involving community radio stations to adequately inform people on measures to contain the virus.
Superintendent Garmondeh disclosed that citizens had been warned not to harbor any suspected Ebola patient in their homes, but to have health authorities informed on the hotlines distributed to all communities, districts and towns.
Bassa Sets Anti-Ebola Measures Along Major Highway
By Johnson Liway, LINA Grand Bassa County Correspondent
BUCHANAN, August 7 (LINA) – Grand Bassa County and health authorities have set up two points to help contain the spread of the Ebola disease at the Cotton Tree and Big Joe Town checkpoints on the highway leading to and from Buchanan, the provincial capital.
Making the disclosure on Tuesday, the County Information Officer, Eddie Williams, said the measures are intended to thoroughly check in-coming and out-going travelers for Ebola symptoms without discrimination.
He named the measures as the use of buckets with faucets and detergent for hand washing and a state-of-the-art thermo flash for temperature detection, among others.
Williams said a thermo flash is a device shaped like a pistol which when shown between the eye and ear can release and register a person’s body temperature.
“Anybody who registers a temperature above requirement on the thermo flash will be sent to a referral hospital for check-up and will not be allowed to enter or leave Grand Bassa County,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr. Williams has reiterated a previous call by Superintendent Etweeda Cooper that anyone caught harboring an Ebola patient will be arrested and prosecuted.
Williams said earlier measures include a restriction that no funeral home should accept dead bodies without proper documents and no wake-keeping should be held without permission.
Two Die Of Ebola In Bomi, CHO Discloses
David Seedee, LINA Bomi County Correspondent
TUBMANBURG, August 7 (LINA) – The Acting Health Officer of Bomi County, Dr. Gabriel Logan, has disclosed that two of the four suspected Ebola patients transferred to Monrovia have succumbed to the disease.
Speaking in an interview with the Liberia News Agency on Wednesday in Tubmanburg, Dr. Logan said specimens of the four patients’ were sent to the Central Laboratory in Monrovia.
He said the two, who are members of the same family, were confirmed positive of the Ebola virus.
Dr. Logan said the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has been informed about the death of the Ebola victims.
He said the remaining two persons have been quarantined and their tests are expected to be done once again.
Dr. Logan urged citizens of the county to observe the preventive measures outlined by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to ensure their safety.
He further urged people who fall sick to immediately report to hospital for treatment, rather than stay home.
Bong Ebola Center Construction Finally Underway
By Ballah Kollie, LINA Bong County Correspondent
SUAKOKO, August 7 (LINA) – Residents of the Leper Colony in Suakoko District, Bong County have finally agreed to the construction of an Ebola Treatment Center in the area.
The decision, which Bong County Superintendent Selena Polson Mappy considers as a major breakthrough, took nearly a week to reach because residents of the colony had expressed fear of stigma and adverse effects on the area from activities at the center.
The change of decision came following hours of exchanges and the provision of insight into the project on Wednesday between the residents and health authorities.
Having understood the terms and benefits of the project, the residents conceded and identified nearly five acres of the 150 acres of government-owned land occupied by the colony one mile away from the Gbarnga-Monrovia Highway in Suakoko, Bong County.
Addressing citizens later, Superintendent Mappy said the identification of a site now paves the way for government and donors to erect, fund and manage the centrally-located Ebola Treatment Center.
Speaking earlier, Bong County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Samson K. Arzoaquoi, noted that time was running out, adding, ”if the project is not implemented now donors could take their funding to another location whereas this county needs it most.”
Arzoaquoi promised that the construction and all other activities at the center will be handled professionally.
Already, the Government in collaboration with the charity, Save the Children, and other partners, were awaiting the clearing of the site to begin work on the center.
When completed, it will alleviate many constraints, including the cost and time associated with transferring suspected and confirmed Ebola cases to Monrovia as well as providing housing facility for those working at the center.
NEC, Political Parties Wrangle Over Mid-term Election Shift
By Richard Stephens
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) -The James M. Fromoyan conference room at the National Elections Commission (NEC) was Wednesday the scene of a political squabble over a recommendation by the NEC to postpone the Mid-term Senatorial Election from October 2014 to January 2015.
During a consultative meeting with political party and independent candidates, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya recommended the postponement of the senatorial election due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus that is ravaging the country.
However, some political party and independent candidates who attended the meeting argued that there was no state of emergency or any Constitutional matter that could give rise to the NEC’s decision, noting that doing so would be tantamount to abrogating the Liberian Constitution.
The politicians stressed that the postponement of any elections must be done through legal means to avoid tampering with the Constitution.
Mr. Blamo Nelson of the United People’s Party (UPP) argued that the NEC is not the Ministry of Health to speak about the gravity of the disease in the country, and the effect it might have on the people.
He, therefore, said the election should go ahead as scheduled.
Former Margibi County Senator Roland C. Kaine of the Unity Party (UP) agreed with Mr. Nelson, noting that postponing the election without legal means will be unconstitutional.
However, Korkoya explained that in the wake of the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, the Commission could not assure the public of holding credible, free and fair elections.
He pointed out that there are some areas in Liberia that have already been earmarked by the government to be quarantined because of the high rate of Ebola infections in those areas.
Korkoya also said the holding of the election in the midst of the rising Ebola death toll in the country cannot be possible.
The National Elections Commission is scheduled to open campaigning on September 12, 2014 to enable candidates vying for Senatorial seats to campaign in their various constituencies.
After hours of arguments, NEC and the politicians agreed that the Commission approaches the Executive to do the postponement legally in order to avoid a constitutional crisis.
Sen. Taylor Backs NEC’s Proposed Election Postponement
By Wilfred Gortor (Intern)
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) -Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor has welcomed the recommendation by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to postpone the Mid-term Senatorial election slated for October 2014 due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the country.
She said ‘no decision is too big’ for the people of Liberia to make and as the national interest is now being threatened by the Ebola virus, all must be done to tackle its root in order for Liberians to live in a healthy society.
She made the statement Wednesday when she spoke to the Liberia News Agency in an exclusive interview at the NEC central office in Monrovia.
According to Senator Taylor, the issue of cancellation or postponement of the special senatorial election is a critical national and political decision which requires critical thinking and analysis of the current health situation in Liberia.
Taylor observed that electoral campaigning “is a very interactive form of exchange” which involves moving into villages, towns, homes and cities where shaking hands and hugging a lot of people are required, noting, “It is very difficult to have election under such circumstances, especially with the presence of the Ebola virus in our country.”
“I am not going to risk myself by going into the homes of people or venturing into huge crowds of people where in some instances you will shake the hands of many people and some of them will even want to rub hands on you. I am not only concerned about myself but also the lives of many of our citizens who will be involved in the campaign process,” Senator Taylor asserted.
The Bong County Senator further observed that the health of every Liberian citizen is more important than any election.
She indicated that it is unrealistic for anyone aspiring for a senatorial seat to think that they can politicize the current emergency for selfish gains.
“The best thing we all can do is not to take this risk. Let us not think that because we want to become senator we should ignore the fact that the country is in a state of great danger. Ebola is real, our country is recording cases on a daily basis, we must take a step now to eradicate Ebola,” Taylor stated.
LEMAG Frowns On Delays In Burying Ebola Corpses
By Robert Dixon
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – The Liberia Environmental Media Action Group (LEMAG) says its attention has been drawn to the failure of health authorities to promptly collect and bury corpses of people suspected to have died from Ebola in various communities.
LEMAG Executive Director Peter A. Fahn said any delay by the authorities to remove dead bodies from street corners and communities has the propensity to worsen an already bad public health situation.
Fahn said since July, several dead bodies have been seen in communities and along streets, including the Freeport of Monrovia, Battery Factory, Shoe Factory and Barnesville Junction as well as the St. Paul Bridge Community.
He told the Liberia News Agency on Wednesday that delays by the relevant authorities to remove dead bodies from communities has caused residents to riot in demand of the removal of the corpses.
He also frowned on the Ministry of Health “Ebola Rapid Response Team” for not promptly responding to emergency calls for ambulance from community residents in order to take patients to medical facilities for immediate treatment.
He applauded the government for steps taken so far as well as allotting US$5 million to fight Ebola, but urged the government to procure more ambulances and safety gears for health workers to enhance their response against the rampaging epidemic.
The group said if the Ministry does not work to improve its response time, the situation could result into the deaths of many ill individuals.
Meanwhile, LEMAG has called on the Government to avoid burying Ebola victims in populated residential communities and near water bodies or wetlands.
The group recommended that the government identifies suitable burial sites far from both residential communities and fragile ecosystem, including water bodies and wetlands.
Commerce Ministry To Publish New Price List
By Prince Nagbe
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – The Acting Minister of Commerce has disclosed that the ministry will on Friday, August 8, begin publishing the recommended prices of basic commodities on the Liberian market.
Mr. Cyrill Allen II made the disclosure Thursday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing held in the Charles Gbenyon Conference Hall at the ministry on Capitol Hill.
According to Minister Allen, the decision comes in the wake of reports of the recent hike in the prices of basic commodities on the market by some unscrupulous business people, especially commodities used in the fight against the Ebola disease such as buckets, soap, gloves and Clorox, among others.
The acting Commerce Ministry boss told journalists that the ministry has assigned 120 inspectors on the field with a mandate to monitor and seize goods that will be sold above the stipulated price quoted by the Ministry of Commerce.
Allen also noted that anyone who will be caught increasing the prices of basic commodities or found hoarding these goods will be arrested and turned over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.
He urged businessmen involved in such unwholesome act to desist and get involved in the fight to curb the Ebola epidemic.
Senator Wants 2 Months Salary Advance For Workers
By Winnie T. Dixon
MONROVIA, August 7 (LINA) – Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe- Sheriff is appealing to government to pay two months’ advance salary to all civil servants to enable them sustain their families in this crisis period.
In a letter dated and read August 7, 2014 to the Liberian Senate, Doe-Sheriff noted that if civil servants are to sit home for three months without advance salary, the country stands to fight another crisis after the deadly Ebola disease.
According to the Liberia News Agency, Senator Sheriff said the need to critically examine the alarming rate of poverty in the country is crucial as most Liberians are now dependent on imported goods for consumption, since this is not harvest time in the country.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate, let me appeal to the Government and to your conscience to please find money anywhere in the budget and pay our people because food prices are very high right now and there is nowhere these people can survive if they don’t have money to meet their basic needs,” she said in the letter.
Senator Sheriff has at the same time thanked the Government and people of Liberia for their stance against the deadly Ebola disease and all the initiatives thus far.
The Senator also encouraged private institutions to pay their employees in advance for two months as the country goes through these critical times.
Following deliberations on her letter, the plenary of the Liberian Senate forwarded the communication to the Committee on Ways, Means and Finance to advise the body in a short time.
AFL Discharges 8 Soldiers Dishonorably
MONROVIA, August 7(LINA) –Eight personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have been dishonorably discharged with ‘immediate effect” from the military for “deeds” incompatible with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
A release from the Ministry of National Defense said that the seven males and a female were also discharged for violating the National Defense Act of 2008 as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.
In the release issued Thursday, the MOD stated that the eight soldiers were discharged for contravening section 7.7 (J) under the National Defense Act which emphasizes such discharge as ‘For the Good of the Service.’
It said this provision corroborates with Article 1-19(3) of the AFL regulation 10.6 which pinpoints substance abuse program, while under the UCMJ Article 112(A) the dismissed soldiers were charged with ‘wrongful use, possession of control substance and not keeping with the AFL standards and also for conduct which contravene the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.
The release also highlights the MOD assurance to the public to ensure the discipline and regimentation of the AFL.
The MOD has, meanwhile, warned individuals, including para- military personnel entering into any of its installations that they will be subjecting themselves to great risk by engaging in any form of illegal activity whether in or out of duty.
In a related development, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has said that the names of the discharged AFL personnel will be disclosed to the public at a later date.