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

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs