‘U.S. Military Not Here to Change Government’

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After weeks of speculation  about the presence of the 3000-strong United States military contingent deployed by President Barrack Obama in   Liberia, Ambassador Deborah R. Malac has clarified that the troops are not here to interfere with the Liberian political system, but to help fight the Ebola epidemic.

Making the clarification at a press briefing Monday, September 29, at the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador Malac stated with emphasis that other than helping to fight Ebola in line with President Obama’s instruction, the U.S. troops and their Government have no clandestine motive for coming to Liberia.

The U.S. Ambassador said during the press briefing that she had over time heard from community dwellers that the 3,000 U.S troops coming to Liberia and other Ebola affected countries is not only meant to fight Ebola, but to change the Government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Let me say this.  The U.S. troops are not here to change government as being speculated all around here.  I have heard from community dwellers that the U.S. troops are here to change the government.  This is not true;  the troops are here to help fight Ebola and nothing else, period,” Ambassador Malac emphasized.

In the wake of the worsening Ebola crisis, President Barack Obama announced sending 3,000 U.S. military personnel to Liberia to help the fight.  The personnel comprise engineers and medical practitioners, who will help to construct treatment units and provide other assistance to the health sector.

However, the announcement and subsequent coming of the U.S. troop have been embraced with the public misconception that there is a hidden agenda that the U.S. Government will want to achieve as its troop comes in the name of fighting Ebola.

The public was especially prompted to speculate when a suspended local daily, The National Chronicles newspaper, earlier published a number of stories indicating that an interim leadership was underway to replace the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Monday’s press briefing was attended by Bill Berger, USAID Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader, U.S. Centers for Disease Control team leader in Liberia, Dr. Brendan Flannery, and Operation Assistance Joint Forces Commander, Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams.

Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, during the briefing, stated that  they are in the country solely to help with the fight against the epidemic by providing technical assistance to government and people of Liberia.

At present they have 175 personnel on ground and a huge number of them are expected in a couple of weeks from now.

They will help in building treatment units and a 25-bed field hospital for healthcare workers.  Their operations will include some work on the Roberts International Airport, where supplies and personnel will land.

Maj. Gen. Williams also said they are bringing helicopters to help transport materials to places where treatment centers will be.

For Dr. Brendan Flannery of the CDC, he emphasized that those contracting the disease need to be treated with compassion and not to do what will stigmatize them.

He indicated that one who has survived from Ebola is no longer infected, and therefore should not be avoided by those who have not contracted the disease.

He urged Liberians to avoid denial and cooperate with the Ministry of Health in preventing the disease.

He said they are here to provide training for health workers and burial teams so they can have broad knowledge on what they need to do to prevent themselves from contracting the disease.

USAID Ebola Dart leader Bill Berger, for his part, said they are to set up testing labs and build 17 treatment centers in Montserrado and other counties in Liberia.

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