A food shortage in Liberia, which has resulted in a lack of the staple food rice, has inflamed tensions with civil society groups, students and even politicians threatening street protests to force the government to address the situation.
On Tuesday, tensions escalated with large crowds of desperate and angry people gathering in front of empty rice warehouses.
The Ministry of Commerce issued a hastily prepared press release to reassure the public.
It said there was still rice in the country and urged rice retailers not to restrict sales or engage in “profiteering at the expense of ordinary people”.
A clear sign of the levels of concern is the hundreds of people, largely women, who are sleeping in the open around the rice warehouses of foreign importers.
Opposition political parties have blamed the government for the crisis but ruling party supporters say this is unfounded.