Liberia Eases Prayer Restrictions But Extends Lockdown

File Photo: Liberia’s president-elect and former football star George Weah. Photo: ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Liberian President George Weah has said he will partially lift restrictions on praying in mosques and churches aimed at curbing coronavirus while extending a lockdown in the capital Monrovia.

In a statement on Friday, the former international footballer said emergency measures announced in April would be extended for two weeks in the West African nation.

These include a ban on all movement between the country’s 15 counties, the closure of non-essential businesses, and stay-at-home orders for Monrovia’s roughly one million inhabitants.

But Weah said he would allow churches to resume services from May 17, and mosques from May 15, provided that they run at 25-per cent capacity to allow for social distancing.

Liberian authorities have recorded 199 cases of the coronavirus to date, with 20 fatalities.

As with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that Liberia is ill-prepared to handle a large outbreak.

The nation of some 4.8 million people was badly hit during West Africa’s 2014-16 Ebola crisis, which killed more than 4,800 people in the country.

Liberia’s George Weah Suspends Minister For Fuelling Ethnic Tensions

 

Liberian President George Weah on Monday suspended his junior press minister for stoking ethnic tensions in a country ravaged by tribalism and two civil wars which killed some 250,000 people.

Weah suspended Eugene Fahngon over comments that a call for a big anti-government demonstration on June 7 was engineered by the so-called “Congo Liberians,” or descendants of freed slaves who returned from the United States to found Africa’s first independent republic.

Weah, who overcame childhood poverty to become an international football legend, is not from this class, which has dominated politics in Liberia for 170 years.

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Weah and his government were “committed to a ‘one country, one people’ policy with zero tolerance on divisive politicking or tribalism,” a statement said.

“I will not go for the June 7 demonstration,” Fahngon had said on Facebook. “It is the Congo people who are behind the June 7 demonstration.”

The US embassy on Monday said it was “concerned by recent comments made in various forums which could impede Liberia’s progress.

“Those who promote through their words or deeds a Congo-Country divide do not have Liberia’s best interests or that of their constituents at heart, but rather appear motivated by personal ambitions or fears,” a statement said.

AFP