Liberia president fires absentee ministers over Ebola crisis

 27 Aug 2014 - 1:55

Nurses wearing protective suits escort a man infected with the Ebola virus to a hospital in Monrovia. 

MONROVIA: Liberia’s leader has sacked ministers and senior government officials who defied an order to return to the west African nation to lead the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak, her office said yesterday.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had told overseas ministers to return within a week as part of a state-of-emergency announcement on August 6, warning that extraordinary measures were needed “for the very survival of our state”.
Sirleaf had “directed that all officials occupying ministerial level positions or equivalent — senior and junior — managing directors, deputy/assistant directors or equivalent, commissioners et cetera who violated the orders are hereby relieved of their positions,” her office said in a statement.
It did not say how many ministers were affected or which ones had been fired.
But a government insider clarified that only deputy ministers and senior officials were involved in the dismissal, and not cabinet-level ministers.
United Nations officials have pledged to step up efforts against the lethal tropical virus, which has infected more than 2,600 and killed 1,427 since the start of the year. The World Health Organization said on Monday more than 120 health workers across west Africa have died during the “unprecedented” outbreak, and more than 240 had been infected.
A second front has opened up in Africa’s struggle with Ebola, after the Democratic Republic of Congo said yesterday it was preparing for a “battle of at least three months”, confirming 13 people had died after contracting the virus in the remote northeast.
Congolese authorities said the outbreak concerned Zaire Ebola, the species that is ravaging west Africa, but they added that the two outbreaks were not linked.