MONROVIA (AA) – A group of Liberians staged a peaceful demonstration on Thursday near the parliament building in capital Monrovia to protest plans by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to suspend several articles of the constitution as part of government efforts to contain the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
“We are here to call on lawmakers not to concur with the president,” one protester, who declined to be named, told Anadolu Agency.
“She [Sirleaf] does not mean well for our country,” he said.
“The fight against Ebola is a holistic fight. It is the methodology that matters, not suspending fundamental rights,” the angry protester stressed.
Sirleaf recently urged parliament to support the proposed suspension of several articles of Liberia’s constitution, which guarantee the right to free speech, to free movement, to elect the country’s leaders, and to freely engage in labor, among other things.
Sirleaf wants to suspend Article 1 of the national charter, which ensures the citizen’s right to “cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments.”
She also wants to suspend Article 13, which stipulates that all legal residents of Liberia “shall have the right to move freely throughout Liberia, to reside in any part thereof, and to leave therefrom.”
The same article also stipulates that every Liberian citizen “shall have the right to leave and to enter Liberia at any time.”
Liberia has remained in a state of emergency since August 6 as part of government efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak.
In recent months, Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed at least 3,879 people in West Africa, including 2,210 in Liberia alone, according to the World Health Organization.
A tropical fever that first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ebola can be transmitted to humans from wild animals. It can also spread through contact with the body fluids of infected persons or of those who have succumbed to the virus.
Protesters at Thursday’s demonstration could be seen carrying placards condemning Sirleaf’s proposal, which they dismiss as a barefaced attempt to return the country to authoritarian rule.
They were unable to formally present their petition to parliament, however, as they were eventually chased off by police. Some of those who were caught were beaten.
Liberia’s Senate and House of Representatives are both currently in session to look into Sirleaf’s controversial proposal.
Some lawmakers, however, have openly said they would not throw their support behind the initiative.
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