The last, gruesome chapter in this country's history in fact left Liberia torn apart in 2003. Moreover, critics say the foreign aid that came into the country since President Sirleaf was first elected in 2006 has been squandered.
Hassan Bility, West Africa regional director at the human rights organization Global Justice and Research Project, says: "There's no trace of it: not in health, nor in education or infrastructure."
Most of the money now being pledged to help Liberia fight Ebola has not yet actually arrived in the country, but the defiance towards Sirleaf, 2011's Nobel Peace Prize winner, is growing, having begun well before the current Ebola outbreak. "It really started with her reelection in 2011," a foreign diplomat working in Monrovia says. "The level of corruption is ever-increasing. She's placing people close to her in the highest positions, including her son at the head of Liberia's National Security Agency."
Sirleaf is also accused of having waited until the end of July to react to the deadly epidemic that began months earlier, and of taking advantage of it to give herself more executive powers, which she did on Oct. 10.
"She wanted to limit freedom of movement, of speech and of reunion and asked to be able to requisition private properties without compensation," says Moses Acarous Gray, one of the most vocal opponents within the Congress for Democratic Change. "When our rulers have such powers, that's called dictatorship."
On a recent day, MP Joseph said he prefers not to talk politics, but rather focus on an anti-Ebola treatment center managed by the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization. The nurses in this 150-bed hospital, which was overcrowded as soon as it opened in mid-September, were threatening to go on strike if their monthly bonus wasn't raised to $700, from the less than $500 they get now on top of their $200 wages.
To ease their daily expenses, Joseph decides to make one of his buses available to transport them from their homes to this high-risk hospital. This comes on top of the vague promises the government has made about the bonuses. The strike is cancelled. "Everybody does what they can," he says. "But it's true that the people aren't very happy."