Liberia Cancels Nationwide Elections Due To Ebola Epidemic

Liberia’s election commission has admitted it would not be able to stage the country’s nationwide Senate polls due to the ebola epidemic currently wrecking lives and means of livelihood across the country.

Liberia’s foreign office said in a statement issued late Wednesday that 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.

Liberia, which has suffered 3834 Ebola cases and 2069 deaths, had been due to elect half of its legislative upper chamber. Almost three million voters had been due to go to polling stations on Tuesday but organisers said there was no way a “mass movement, deployment and gathering of people” could go ahead without endangering lives.

The election commission said the epidemic has hampered its ability to conduct “a free, fair, transparent and credible election” but added that it would consult political parties and candidates with a view to fixing a new date, before the end of the year if possible.

Chairman Jerome George Korkoya was quoted as saying the outbreak prevented training and deployment of 25,000 staff needed for 4,700 polling stations across the country. The election would also require 365 “educators” to raise awareness of the polls in 73 electoral districts across the country as well as 400 election supervisors. Computer engineers would not be able to go around the country setting up Internet connections for the transmission of results, and the turnout would be extremely low in any case, Korkoya added.

“The commission is required to internationally procure ballot paper printing services for the printing of 2,640,000 ballot papers, 78,750 mock ballots and 5,000 polling kits, all of which have to be flown into the country,” he said.

“The timely delivery of these materials, most of which are sensitive, cannot be guaranteed in the wake of the current wave of the suspension of flights to Liberia.”