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Fearing Ebola, Liberia cancels democratic elections as President seeks to control, speech, religion and private property

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(NaturalNews) The African nation of Liberia was founded, in part, by freed American slaves, but now, nearly 200 years later, the country is in danger of becoming overrun by Ebola, and its president is seeking dictatorial powers.

According to Voice of America (VOA), President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has petitioned the national legislature to extend to her additional emergency powers in the name of preventing the further spread of the deadly virus.

Currently, the country is already under a state of emergency, as well as a curfew, VOA reported, adding:

In a letter to the Plenary of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Sirleaf asked for powers to amend seven different articles under the constitution, including freedom of movement, speech, religion, confiscation of private property, and elections.

'I will vote against it'

Acarous Gray, a member of the House of Representatives from Congress for Democratic Change, an opposition party, has announced he will vote "no" on Sirleaf's request for new authoritarian powers. He said he will do so because he does not want to see a return to a military-style dictatorship for Liberia, outbreak or not.

"In my view, this is dangerous, and it reminds us of the days when the dictators govern Liberia," he said, as reported by VOA. "While it is true that we have a state of emergency, the Liberian Constitution under Article 87 is very clear that during the state of emergency no provision of the constitution can be suspended. So, we cannot provide an absolute authority of such to the President that will be draconian. I will publicly advocate against it, and I will vote against it."

He went on to say that Sirleaf has not yet made much of a dent in reducing the impact of the virus on the country, despite the fact that she has placed Liberia under a curfew and state of emergency.

"Authority under the state of emergency has been given to the President as [far] back as August 7 of this year. But what has the president done with that authority?" Gray said.

In a separate report, International Business Times (IBT) reported that Sirleaf has canceled nationwide Senate elections that were forthcoming in just a few days -- again, citing concerns that the election commission could not operate polling stations in a safe environment because of the Ebola crisis.

Agence France-Presse further reported that officials believed that the elections, which were expected to draw about 3 million voters, would have unnecessarily endangered lives and therefore should not be carried out.

'Do we want chaos?'

IBT noted:

Liberia was slated to vote in half of its 30-member upper chamber. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf exercised her authority to declare a state of emergency and suspended "any and all rights ordinarily exercised, enjoyed and guaranteed to citizens."

"[The government] has been unable to undertake several of the processes that are prerequisites to conducting the pending 2014 Senatorial elections, including the deployment of staff in the field to conduct civil/voter education, the recruitment and deployment of the required polling staff at polling centers, [and] the importation of basic, essential and sensitive electoral materials due to the suspension of flights to Liberia," the president said in a statement.

The elections were to be held the second week in October, as per the Liberian constitution.

Prior to the cancellation, Gray insisted that any decision to postpone or change election dates should be made through a consultative process involving all political parties in the country as well as each of the three branches of government.

"The National Elections Commission has written to both houses of the legislative branch of government to find a way out. But to provide the single authority to the president to make the decision on when to have elections is tantamount to chaos," he said, according to VOA.

"Do we want chaos in Liberia? The manner in which the president is proceeding is dangerous. And I want to be very clear that we will not allow a military junta to govern our country under a constitutional arrangement," Gray added.






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