Ebola-hit Liberia cancels nationwide election

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrives to speak to villagers about precautions against Ebola virus outside Ganta, Liberia on Oct 7, 2014. Ebola-hit Liberia has suspended its nationwide Senate polls after the election commission admitte
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrives to speak to villagers about precautions against Ebola virus outside Ganta, Liberia on Oct 7, 2014. Ebola-hit Liberia has suspended its nationwide Senate polls after the election commission admitted it would not be able to stage the ballot safely, according to a government statement. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MONROVIA (AFP) - Ebola-hit Liberia has suspended its nationwide Senate polls after the election commission admitted it would not be able to stage the ballot safely, according to a government statement.

Almost three million voters had been due in polling stations on Tuesday but organisers said there was no way a "mass movement, deployment and gathering of people" could go ahead without further endangering lives.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was exercising powers under a state of emergency announced in August "to suspend... any and all rights ordinarily exercised, enjoyed and guaranteed to citizens", the foreign office said in a statement issued late Wednesday, quoting a presidential proclamation.

Liberia, which has seen more than half of almost 4,000 deaths in the outbreak ravaging west Africa, had been due to vote in half of its 30-member upper chamber.

The election commission said in a statement it had recommended the postponement because it could not conduct "a free, fair, transparent and credible election" because of the epidemic.

It added that it would consult political parties and candidates with a view to fixing a new date, before the end of the year if possible.