The deadly Ebola virus continues to elude control in Liberia, with the outbreak retreating in some regions and popping up in others. And now, with Liberian Senate elections tentatively slated for next week, a debate is raging about whether it is safe to hold a vote. “People are going to march into the same polling booth, and touch the same pens, possibly,” says New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink, who has spent much of the last two months in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone. “How do you protect people in that case?” Liberia’s Senate election was originally slated for October 14, but was moved to December 16. The country’s Supreme Court is considering petitions filed by civil society groups who would like to see a further postponement. But most Liberian political parties are pushing for a vote. The court’s ruling is expected on Friday.
There was a massive rally for one Senate candidate in the capital city, Monrovia, last month. The size of the gathering raised alarms and in early December, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf banned future rallies and mass gatherings in the capital. Ebola cases there are now averaging just 10 per day.
Health officials are warning that Ebola could seize this moment surge back in Liberia.