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After Pro-tempt rant: Ellen, Senate meet

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After Pro temptPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Tuesday paid a visit to the Capitol Building and met with the leadership of the Liberian Senate behind closed door for about two hours in the Senate chambers.

Detail of the visit was not made public, but it is believed to center around prevailing state matters, including disagreement between Finance Minister Amara Konneh and the Senate on alleged Legislative contempt and recent criticism by Senate President Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah against the dissolution of the ex-Armed Forces of Liberia, which the Senator said violated the Constitution of Liberia and the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Accra, Ghana in 2003 and harsh response from the President.

When asked by Legislative reporters whether she had gone to provide clarity to Pro-Tempore Jallah on the army’s dissolution, President Sirleaf, in a rather hash tune and angry facial expression, said her visit was not about such and that anyone interesting in following the friction between the Pro-Tempore and her should make his or way to her temporary office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill. Due to the question, President Johnson Sirleaf and entourage hurriedly left the corridors of the Capitol Building and speedily took off for the Foreign Ministry.

But speaking earlier, she told the press that her visit was about resolving some key issues with the senators. Over the weekend, President Sirleaf in an unprecedented mood reacted sharply to comments attributed to Senate Pro-tempt Armah Jallah, which tend to incite some ex-servicemen, noting that his comments are intolerable, and have the propensity to spur violence.

Pro-tempt Jallah had questioned the restructuring of the Armed Forces of Liberia – AFL while suggesting that the government erred or violated both the laws of Liberia and the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord, thereby calling on government to provide compensation to both former members of the AFL and their “widows” in the amount of US$2 million and more.

Speculations from within the chambers indicate that the President called for calm between her office and Senate Pro-Tempore Jallah. The President is also said to have lobbied with members of the upper house not to incarcerate Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh for contempt, as they had already voted upon as well as provided some details on the death of Mr. Harry Greaves.

Minister Konneh was summoned by the Senate to show reason why he should not be held in contempt over a communication he sent to the body. It can be recalled that on January 26, In a January 26, 2016 communication addressed to the Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Deputy Finance Minister Dr. James Kollie informed the Senate of a proposed cut in its recurrent appropriation for fiscal year 2015/16 from US$15,306,416 to US$14,043,570 due to impact of global economic meltdown on the economy of Liberia.

The letter also gave the senators ultimatum to respond or the Finance Ministry would be left with no option but to effect the necessary cut accordingly, something that have enraged the senators.

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