United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Liberia on the first leg of his five nations' tour to Ebola affected countries in West Africa today.
The Secretary General is expected to visit Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali and Ghana.
The UN Chief and delegation are expected to land at about 8:30 a.m. at the Roberts International Airport (RIA). He will receive the guard of honor and thereafter travel to Monrovia where he's scheduled to hold talks with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Foreign Ministry.
The Secretary General will be accompanied by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization and his Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro.
According to the UN office in Monrovia, at 9:45, Mr. Ban will hold talks with President Sirleaf before their joint press conference with the media. Thereafter, he is scheduled to meet with members of the UN family and the Ebola response leaders who are involved in the fight against Ebola in Liberia.
The Secretary General will travel to Sierra Leone from Liberia where he's visiting as part of a show of solidarity for Ebola hardest hit countries.
During his visit, Mr. Ban will urge greater global action to fight the epidemic, which United Nations food agencies said the disease could push the number of people facing food insecurity to more than one million by next spring.
“The disease's impact is potentially devastating in the three countries already coping with chronic food insecurity,” according to a press release issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Already this month, the agencies said half a million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
FAO and WFP said reports from their offices in the three most-affected countries show that “border closures, quarantines, hunting bans and other restrictions are seriously hindering people's access to food, threatening their livelihoods, disrupting food markets and processing chains, and exacerbating shortages stemming from crop losses in areas with the highest Ebola infection rates.”
The Rome-based UN agencies warned that “the number of people facing food insecurity due to the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could top one million by March 2015 unless access to food is drastically improved and measures are put in place to safeguard crop and livestock production.”
At a year-end press conference at UN headquarters, the UN Secretary-General said he was on his way to visit Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Ghana (though not an Ebola affected nation).
“I want to see the response for myself, and show my Supporters of George Weah stood by as they watched queues of Robert Sirleaf's supporters (some in convoy) marched through the principle streets of Monrovia.
Independent candidate Sirleaf was in a carrier waving to people who might be his supporters.
It's quite a good crowd, but it is not comparable to mammoth of people that lacked down Monrovia about two weeks ago when George Weah, the candidate of the main opposition Congress for democratic Change (CDC) launched his campaign.
Mr. Sirleaf's campaign on Thursday was relatively peaceful and there was no report of provocation from rival supporters of the CDC. Some Liberians, who watched supporters of Mr. Sirleaf marched through the streets of Monrovia, said they weren't confident that he would win.
“It will be a disaster for Rob Sirleaf on Saturday,” James Yekeson, a mechanic for more than ten years remarked. “I saw Weah's launch the other day, it was an indication that the CDC candidate would certainly emerge victorious.”
The CDC is expected to hold a victory march today. In about 24 hours, Liberians across the country are going to decide personalities who will represent them at the national legislature. So far, political commentators predict that there would be a protest vote against the current lawmakers on grounds that they have not actually advocated on their behalf.
Most of the senators seeking re-election have been accused of signing concessions or enacting legislation that do not seek the interest of their people.
Tough battles are expected in a number of counties, including Grand Cape Mount County where Cllr. Varney Sherman, the chairman of the ruling Unity Party faces incumbent Senator Abel Massalay who is reported to be one of the longest serving members of the Legislature.
Although unpredictable, political commentators believe that the contest is among Geologist Dr. Foday Kromah of the CDC, Massalay and Cllr. Sherman, the erudite lawyer is slightly ahead of an opinion poll.
In Nimba, incumbent Senator Prince Johnson faces a tight contest against former Superintendent Edith Gongloe Weh and former Education Minister Dr. Joseph Korto. Either Johnson or Edith could win. In Grand Gedeh, incumbent representative Zoe Pennoh, is reportedly the likely choice of the people.
However, he faces Samuel K. Doe, Jr., former university English lecturer Charles Breeze and others.
As Liberians vote on Saturday, the international community has called for peaceful process and urged Liberians to be mindful of the reality that Ebola is still here.