Liberia declared a public holiday on Friday so people can stay at home to be counted in a much-delayed census, yet none of the 71,000 counters hired for the job are out counting because of a dispute over their fees.
There was also a last-minute disagreement between top officials of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services – it’s head insists preparations are complete, but another senior official in charge of statistics disagrees, and warns that any attempt at premature counting will not be accurate or credible.
In their confusion, people in rural places have been phoning others in Monrovia to find out if the census will actually happen.
President George Weah – out of Liberia for weeks to attend officials events including watching his son, Timothy, play for the US side in the football World Cup in Qatar – is under heavy criticism for not staying at home himself for the census and setting an example to others.
Some lawmakers had suggested a postponement of the event to allow for more adequate preparation, but this wasn’t considered.
The Liberian constitution calls for a census to be conducted every 10 years. The results are needed to define electoral constituencies for the 2023 general election.