It appears that the political tussle between members of the Liberian Senate and Finance, and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh is far from ending.
All were set last Thursday during the statutory sitting of the senators to hear Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye’s motion for reconsideration and have it voted upon, but the wisdom of presiding officer, Senate Pro-Tempore ArmahJallah halted the process, giving no reason for his decision.
Due to the unexplained postponement by Pro-Tempore Jallah, the plenary of the Senate will now hear the motion tomorrow, March 1.But it is believed that members of the 53rd Liberian Senate do not have the political might again as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s visit last week to the august body was mainly center around pleading to the lawmakers not to imprison the finance boss on alleged contempt as they had voted.
The senators seem not willing to adhere to the appeal of the President, which many of them had acceptedduring her visit with a promise to work in the spirit of cooperation. Should the senate go ahead to jail Minister Konneh, there is a pending writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court of Liberia under the arm of the Finance Minister to be delivered upon the declaration of his incarceration, and that Sgt. At arms at the Liberian Senate takes direct order from the President as Commander- in Chief of the Armed Force of Liberia, meaning the process to taking Minister Konneh to the Monrovia Central Prison may not actualize.
If the senators are not very careful in dealing with the contempt charges against Minister Konneh, they could be more embarrassed than expected. Information gathered from influential senators is that plenary is seriously considering imposing a fine on the minister and asking him to write a letter of apology to be published in the print media for a week.
Despite his previous argument that he violated no portion of the Constitution of Liberia after his deputy Dr. James Kollie, wrote the Liberian Senate with an ultimatum, Finance Minister Konneh succumbed to the Senators and issued a formal apology to that august body.
Minister Konneh in a two-page communication dated February 3, 2016, expressed his deepest apology and at the same time begged members of the senate to drop the contempt charges brought against him. Bad blood had earlier developed between the ministry and the Senate over a letter by Deputy Minister Kollie to members of the august body informing them of the budgetary constraints which would see their (Senators’) overall allotment slash by US$1 million, and that authorities at the MFDP were attempting to take the appropriation power from the senate.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Jonathan Browne