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Ebola-hit Liberia fires absentee ministers

Liberia's leader has sacked ministers and senior government officials who defied an order to return to the west African nation to lead the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak, her office said on Tuesday (Aug 26).

MONROVIA: Liberia's leader has sacked ministers and senior government officials who defied an order to return to the west African nation to lead the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak, her office said on Tuesday (Aug 26).

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had told overseas ministers to return within a week as part of a state-of-emergency announcement on Aug 6, warning that the extraordinary measures were needed "for the very survival of our state".

Her office said in a statement that she had "directed that all officials occupying ministerial level positions or equivalent - senior and junior - managing directors, deputy/assistant directors or equivalent, commissioners et cetera who violated the orders are hereby relieved of their positions."

The statement did not say how many ministers were affected or which ones had been fired. But a government insider clarified that only deputy ministers and senior officials were involved in the cull, and not cabinet-level ministers. Those not occupying ministerial level positions but "holding important public offices" would have their pay docked until their return, the statement added.

"(Sirleaf) commends and appreciates all government officials and senior level public servants who observed the orders and returned to join the fight against deadly Ebola virus disease," it said.

United Nations officials have pledged to step up efforts against the lethal tropical virus, which has infected more than 2,600 and killed 1,427 since the start of the year. Liberia has suffered most since the outbreak of the deadly virus erupted earlier this year, with 624 deaths. 

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