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September 02, 2014

Amid Ebola Crisis, Some Liberians Call for President’s Resignation

by James Butty

Citing corruption and a lack of development, there are growing calls among Liberia’s diaspora for the resignation of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. 

Some argue Liberia has become a failed state under her leadership. They say that after nine years in office, her government has failed to build a workable national healthcare system. Critics say this failure is responsible for the government’s poor handling of the Ebola outbreak.  

A senior government official, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the government was presently focused on the Ebola crisis and that anyone who has a problem with the government should wait for the next election.  

But Seyon Nyanwleh, Secretary-General of the Movement of Liberians Against Corruption, countered that Liberians cannot afford to wait one more day.

“What’s clear is that there is a growing call for Madam Sirleaf to resign, and then the question is, if Madam Sirleaf resigns, what’s next?  Do we have an interim government, or do we have a trusteeship, or do we have the Vice President, Dr. Boakai, to take over?  So, yes, there is a high level discussion taking place within the Liberian community,” he said. ​“Let’s be clear for the record, Madam Sirleaf has failed. To even think about waiting one more day is more harmful to Liberia than it is now.  It’s in the supreme interest of Liberia if Madam Sirleaf resigns."

Nyanwleh said the movement calling for the resignation of Sirleaf and the formation of an interim government has the support of a cross section of Liberians.

“Liberians in barber shops, Liberians in beauty salons, Liberians in churches, Liberians in the community are talking about what is happening in their country. And, everybody has settled on one thing: Madam Sirleaf has failed,” he said.

Some notables said to be associated with the Sirleaf resignation campaign include former interim government of Liberia leader Amos Sawyer and former University of Liberia Vice President James Tarpeh.

However, Sawyer told Liberian online publication FrontPage Africa that “those folks who are calling for an interim government are moving in the wrong direction and could never count on my support, or that of others who are committed to this agenda.”

Nyanwleh dismissed criticism by some who say the mere talk of an interim government amid an Ebola crisis shows insensitivity.

He said that while diaspora Liberians are in solidarity with those at home in the fight against Ebola, the government should not use the Ebola crisis as an excuse.

“Let me say, first and foremost, may God bless the souls of our people who have died from the Ebola disease and those struggling to survive Ebola, not just in Liberia, but in Guinea, Sierra Leone and also Nigeria.  May God help you.  Having said that, our people need to know that we shouldn’t use Ebola as an excuse because, before Ebola, our country was in a mess,” Nyanwleh said.