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Politics

Liberia holds vote delayed by Ebola

Voting is under way in Liberia in an election that was postponed in October because of the Ebola outbreak.

Liberians are choosing representatives to the country’s senate.

Among the 139 candidates vying for 15 seats are former football star George Weah and Robert Sirleaf, the son of Liberia’s president.

Ebola has infected about 19,000 people in West Africa, killing more than 7,373 – with 3,346 deaths in Liberia, according to the latest UN figures.

The senate elections were postponed in October in a bid to stop campaigners and voters spreading the virus.

The election is being held just days after neighbouring Sierra Leone clamped down on public gatherings.

It has banned Sunday trading, restricted travel between districts and prohibited public celebrations over Christmas and the New Year.

One of Sierra Leone’s top doctors, Victor Willoughby, died from Ebola on Thursday, just hours after the arrival of experimental drug ZMab which could have been used to treat him.

Healthcare workers are among those most at risk of catching Ebola which is spread by bodily fluids and requires close contact with victims.

In November, Liberia’s election commission chairman, Jerome Korkoya, urged candidates and supporters to follow public health regulations in the run-up to the senate elections.

“For instance, the transportation of large groups of electorates by candidates clustered in vehicles and the congregation of huge number of people will be regulated,” he said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Liberia on Friday at the start of a two-day visit to countries affected by Ebola in West Africa. He continued on to Guinea on Saturday.

After stepping off the plane, he washed his hands and had his temperature taken – two important practices to help stop the spread of the disease.

Mr Ban urged people to follow strict health regulations until the epidemic was over.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf lifted a state of emergency last month that was imposed in August to control the outbreak.

Source: Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana

Categories
Politics

George Weah wins Liberia senate seat

The former football star George Weah has won a landslide victory in Liberia’s senate elections, in polls disrupted by the Ebola outbreak.

Mr Weah got 78% of the vote for the Montserrado county seat, which includes the capital Monrovia.

He beat Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took nearly 11%.

Low turnout in the poll, which was first planned for October, was blamed on concerns about Ebola.

Strict health controls were in place to try to prevent the spread of the disease.

Those who came to polling stations had their temperature taken, were told to stand a metre (3ft) apart and wash their hands before and after voting.

Liberia has been one of the countries worst affected by Ebola, with almost 3,400 deaths, the UN says.

Other winners in the senate elections include Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of the jailed former president Charles Taylor, and the former rebel leader Prince Johnson. Both retained their seats.

The National Elections Commission chairman, Jerome Korkoya, called the conclusion of the vote “the end of a crucial journey”.

Mr Weah won the first round of the 2005 presidential election, losing the runoff to Ms Johnson-Sirleaf.

He is the only African to be named Fifa’s world player of the year, winning in 1995.

Source: BBC