Liberia Under State of Emergency

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has with immediate effect declared a State of Emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia. This measure took effect as of Wednesday, August 6, 2014 and is to last for a period of 90 days.

According to the President, the State of Emergency is in keeping with Article 86 A and B and of the Liberian Constitution, which calls on the Head of State to exhibit such power when the existence of the state is under threat.

It comes at a time when the Ebola virus continues to wreak havoc on the Liberian population, killing over 200 Liberians and over 1000 in the Mano River Union sub-region. The government had earlier put into place some stringent measures in an effort to contain the virus, but these seem not to be working.

Addressing the nation late last night on the state-owned Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), the Liberian leader said under the State of Emergency, the government will institute extra-ordinary measures including, if need be, the suspension of certain rights and privileges as mandated by the constitution.

She stressed that the virus now poses serious threat to security and welfare of the nation, and beyond the public health risk, the disease is now undermining the economic stability of our country to the tone of millions of dollars in lost revenues, productivity and economic activities.

She promised to immediately forward the declaration of the state of emergency to the national legislature accompanied by the explanation of the facts and circumstances leading to the declaration, adding that despite all of the efforts from government and partners, the Ebola virus continues to wreak havoc on the population, especially in eight counties, including Montserrado, which has Monrovia.

She said: “…the [Ebola] threat continues to grow. Ignorance, poverty as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease, especially in the counties.” President Sirleaf added that actions allowed by statute under public health law are no longer adequate to deal with the Ebola epidemic, as comprehensively and holistically as the outbreak requires.

The Liberian President noted that the scope and skills of the epidemic now exceed the capacity and statutory mandates of any one government agency or ministry. The Ebola virus disease, the ramification and the consequences thereof now constitute the outright existing.

“The healthcare system in the country is now under immense strain and the Ebola epidemic is having a chilling effect on the overall healthcare delivery. Out of fear of being infected with the disease, healthcare practitioners are pressed to accept no patient, especially in community clinics all across the country. Consequently many common diseases which are prevalent during the raining season such as malaria, typhoid, and common colds are going untreated and would lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths,” she said.

“The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of the state and the protection of the lives of our people. Therefore and by virtue of the powers vested in me as President of the Republic of Liberia, I Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in keeping with Article 86 A and B of the Constitution of the Republic thereby declare a State of Emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia, effective as of August 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days.”

Tha last known state of emergency declared in Liberia was in 2003 under the Presidency of Mr. Charles Taylor, whose government was embattled by armed rebels from all over the City of Monrovia. President Taylor eventually stepped down from office and into exile, leaving the state of affairs to his Vice President Moses Z. Blah (now deceased).

The Ebola virus currently has no cure, and has a fatality rate of 90 percent, the aggregate numbers of cases, confirmed, probable and suspected cases in the country has now exceeded 500, with about 271 deaths, 32 of them being healthcare workers.

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