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Ebola: Liberia holds long-delayed Senate vote

Liberians voted Saturday in long-delayed Senate elections in the Ebola-ravaged west African nation as UN chief Ban Ki-moon wound up a regional tour to assess the fight against the epidemic.

In nearby Guinea, where the UN chief visited Saturday before heading to Mali the same day, violence broke out in southern Kissidougou where hundreds of youngsters went on the rampage against an Ebola health centre set up by Doctors Without Borders, known by its French abbreviation of MSF.

Angry youths fearing an outbreak of the disease “ransacked installations, notably MSF tents, set fire to tarpaulins and smashed chairs to chase out the staff,” police commissioner Alfred Houlemou told AFP by phone.

In Liberia, the vote for 15 of the 30 seats in the upper house of parliament had been postponed twice already as the epidemic swept the impoverished nation, killing more than 3,200 people.

It was originally scheduled on October 14, then deferred by two days and ultimately pushed back to December.

Balloting began at 7:30 am (0730 GMT) and is due to end at 5:00 pm. But polling stations opened late in many places in the seaside capital Monrovia and in several locations in the interior of the country.

Football star George Weah — the former African footballer of the year who played for Chelsea and AC Milan before retiring in 2003 — and the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf, are among the 139 candidates in the running for a seat.

Weah, 48, ran unsuccessfully against Johnson Sirleaf for president in the country’s 2005 election.

After casting his vote in northern Kendeja, Weah said he was sure of victory.

“I am more than confident that I will win … My victory was stolen from me in previous presidential elections. This time I will not allow it,” he said.

Liberia was the country worst hit by the deadly virus until being overtaken by a recent surge in new infections in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Liberia’s Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyensuah said all voters would be tested and those with high temperatures asked to cast their ballots in a separate area.


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