Liberia postpones elections again because of Ebola

MONROVIA, Liberia — Officials in Ebola-stricken Liberia on Sunday postponed Senate elections until the end of the week, while some urged calling off the vote for fear the results would not be credible.

Ebola has killed nearly 3,200 people this year in Liberia, and many question whether elections can be held under such circumstances.

The elections, first scheduled in October, were supposed to be held Monday, but have been moved to Saturday. It was not immediately clear whether the extra days would be sufficient to address the logistical problems posed by Ebola.

The chairman of the official electoral body, Jerome Korkoyah, said after Sunday’s meeting that rescheduling the elections at such a short notice ‘‘is going to cost a lot of money to get robust information out there.’’


While health authorities say the situation has stabilized somewhat in recent weeks, there are fears that mass gatherings at polling stations could spark a new surge in Ebola cases. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.

Alaric Tokpa, from the opposition National Democratic Alliance, walked out of Sunday’s meeting, saying as he departed that the elections would not be credible.

‘‘We think that it is important for us to be able to ensure that elections are held in ways that are credible so that the results are accepted by everybody in the country so that we avoid crisis in the postwar period,’’ he said.

The most notable candidate is former soccer star George Weah, who is taking on Robert Sirleaf, the third son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for the Monrovia area seat.

The Liberian Supreme Court had decided last week that the elections could go forward. The court said its role was not to make decisions on political affairs. Two of the five justices dissented, saying the government was not prepared to conduct the elections safely. They also said that holding elections in the current climate violated civil and political rights.


In neighboring Sierra Leone, a top health official confirmed Sunday that one of the country’s most prominent doctors has contracted Ebola. Dr. Victor Willoughby is the 12th Sierra Leonean physician to become infected; 10 have died.

Chief medical officer Dr. Brima Kargbo confirmed Sunday that Willoughby had tested positive for Ebola.

Junior doctors in Sierra Leone last week launched a strike to demand better medical treatment for health workers who contract the disease. Kargbo said Sunday that substitutes are aiding the senior doctors.

Nearly 1,800 people have died from Ebola this year in Sierra Leone amid the regional epidemic.