By Alphonso Toweh…
(Reuters) – Liberia’s Supreme Court suspended campaigning for next month’s senate election on Friday while it considers a petition warning that electioneering risks spreading the Ebola outbreak, the information minister said.
A group including some former government officials and political party representatives filed the petition earlier this week for the Dec. 16 vote to be delayed until next year when the outbreak will possibly be over.
Liberia, the nation hardest hit by the worst Ebola epidemic on record, has seen over 3,000 of its citizens killed by the disease. A total of 5,689 people had died through Nov. 23, nearly all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The disease has slowed in recent weeks in Liberia, however, raising hopes that the outbreak there may be nearing and end.
“The Justice in Chambers Philip Z. Banks urged the National Elections Commission to inform all political parties to halt all activities associated with the election,” Information Minister Lewis Brown told Reuters.
Brown said Banks would hold a hearing on the petition on Dec. 2, at which time he would decide whether it warranted examination by the full court or should be dismissed.
A senior elections commission official confirmed that body had also been informed of the court’s decision.
The election has already been delayed once. By law, it should have been held in October, but that was at the height of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and it was pushed back.