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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid