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Liberia’s Ebola Crisis Puts President in Harsh Light

 

In this Sept. 18, 2006, file photo, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addresses the audience at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (Josh Reynolds/AP Photo)
In this Sept. 18, 2006, file photo, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addresses the audience at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (Josh Reynolds/AP Photo)

 

MONROVIA, Liberia (New York Times) — The president waited until her family members were seated around the dining table before announcing, with no fanfare, the latest defection from her cabinet.

“I lost my justice minister today,” she said, picking up a spoon before heading out to visitEbola treatment units.

As the table erupted with questions, the president, having said all that she intended to, finished up her lunch of Libby’s tinned corned beef and rice — the Liberian equivalent of ramen noodles — and rose.

“We’re late,” she announced, not mentioning that everyone had been waiting for her for four hours. “Let’s go, let’s go.”

For the last eight years, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 76, has walked a precarious political tightrope. As Liberia’s first elected leader after a devastating civil war, she has juggled enemies and allies while pushing this country on its first sustained course of economic growth in decades.

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