News / Africa

    Ebola Outbreak Creates Political Controversy in Liberia

    In this photo taken on March 29, 2014, medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.In this photo taken on March 29, 2014, medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.
    x
    In this photo taken on March 29, 2014, medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.
    In this photo taken on March 29, 2014, medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.
    James Butty
    With more than 150 cases and nearly 100 deaths reported from the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, some health officials believe the disease is becoming an epidemic in West Africa. In Liberia, it appears Ebola has become a political issue as well.

    On Saturday, businessman and would-be presidential candidate Benoni Urey accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of abandoning the nation for an overseas adventure in the midst of the Ebola outbreak.

    Urey called on the president to cut short her current European trip and return home to lead the efforts to combat the spread of the often-fatal disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that the West African outbreak is being contained and is not an epidemic.

    Management of Liberia's health crisis

    WHO reports that Liberia's health ministry has confirmed 5 deaths linked to the Ebola virus and another 16 cases under investigation. Ninety-five deaths have been attributed to the Ebola in three districts in Guinea - where the virus was first reported - and in the capital, Conakry.

    Sirleaf said in statement that she is being briefed every day by the minister of health. While out of the country, the president attended the two-day 4th annual Euro-African Summit in Brussels along with 80 other national leaders and met with Pope Francis in Rome on Saturday. 

    Presidential spokesman Jerolinmek Piah reportedly called Urey a political nobody and a man who does not understand the intricacies of the presidency. He reportedly said Urey should leave politics and concentrate on his farming and cell phone scratch card businesses.

    But Urey said he stands by his call for Sirleaf to cut short her overseas trip to deal with the Ebola crisis.

    “You know, the Ebola situation in Liberia is no small situation.  In fact, there are four cases of it reported about two miles from where I live.  And, it’s only right for me as a human being to be alarmed about.  And we all believe that in such an emergency that the president should have forfeited all other obligations and concentrated on the lives of Liberians.  And, we hope that she will see reason to cut her trip short and come back to Liberia,” Urey said.

    Urey said Sirleaf has made too many overseas trips and could have sent the foreign minister or the vice president to represent her on her current trip.

    Urey plans to run for president of Liberia

    Urey said he plans to contest the 2017 presidential election. He denied he was being political by criticizing Sirleaf.

    “I am going to run for the presidency of Liberia and, come 2017, at the end of 2017, I believe you will hear that I am the next president of Liberia. You’ve known me for almost 20 years, and I have not gone out to say anything negative about the government. But, when the lives of Liberians are threatened, I will speak,” Urey said.

    He called on government officials and other opposition politicians who care about Liberia to speak out and, if they don’t, they will be judged by history.

    Urey took exception to Piah’s reported comments aimed at him.

    Political critic defends his business interests

    “The fact of the matter is that we do have a crisis in Liberia.  Whether I’m a farmer today, or I sell scratch cards, it’s irrelevant.  A major factor here is that I am a Liberian and there’s pride in the dignity in labor,” Urey said.

    Urey says he owns a large percentage of the biggest global system for communication provider in Liberia. His farming and cell phone businesses provide jobs for many Liberians, he said.

    “If this little boy Piah can get up and insult me by virtue of what I have done for my country and what I’ve done for him, how many [of] his relatives are employed through the sale of scratch cards," the businessman said. "And, if being a farmer is a disgrace, then it’s right for him to say that (former U.S.) President (Jimmy) Carter, who was a peanut farmer in America, rose to the seat of the presidency.”

    Urey said he felt insulted by Piah’s comments and called on Sirleaf to take action against her press secretary, or he will take legal action.

    “What is most disappointing in this whole issue is for the president to allow a ‘little boy’ like Piah to come and insult somebody like me.  But, we expect that the president will do something about it.  If she doesn’t, we have to take legal action,” Urey said.
     
    Butty interview with Urey
    Butty interview with Ureyi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Kerk from: Fairfield, CA
    April 10, 2014 7:01 PM
    I do not have any profound knowledge in Mr. Urey's plan presidential run, but I truly agree with him. The president should be on the ground to assure the public about her administration plans to curtail the spread of this deadly virus.

    Yes the president trip may be vital for the country's development but this Ebola crisis is a matter of national emergency and the president should show some level of urgency. There will be now investment in the country if the international community isolate the country in fear of spreading the disease to their people like Senegal has done along the Guinean border.

    by: Jucontee s. Nahnie from: Monrovia, Liberia
    April 10, 2014 9:26 AM
    Bravo, Mr. Urey, you will receive our support in 2017. You are one among many Liberian that have this country at heart through your many investments. We love u.

    by: george from: Monrovia
    April 09, 2014 10:43 PM
    Urey did not labor for that money to open farm or scratch card business. It was state resources from the Taylor regime. Liberians can't be stupid enough to vote him to power

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora