‘48 Hours Jail for Amara Konneh Still Stands’

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The President Pro-Tempore and Senator of Gbarpolu County, Armah Zolu Jallah, has maintained that the decision by the Senate during its 9th Day Sitting on Tuesday, February 9, for Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh to face jail sentence for 48 hours remains.

He said that plenary is awaiting the result of the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Senator G. Alphonso Gaye before further proceedings.

Pro-Temp Jallah unequivocally stated that “Article 34 (d) empowers the Legislature to levy taxes, duties, imposes excise and other revenues, borrow money, issue currency, mint coins, and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, amongst others.”

Besides Senator Gaye’s motion for reconsideration, lawyers for the Ministry of Finance have also filed a stay order on proceedings of the contempt of the Legislature, which was used to impose the 48 hours sentence on the Minister.

In another development, the Gbarpolu County Lawmaker has expressed concern about the security implication over how Article 7 of the final peace agreement on Liberia, the Accra Peace Accord (APA) signed on August 18, 2003, has been implemented.

According to Pro Temp Jallah, Article 7 of the Peace Accord speaks to the issue of disbandment of the irregular forces, reforming and restructuring of the Liberian Armed Forces. “The irregular forces here refer to the rebel and armed groups during the civil war. The error here is that the regular Armed Forces have been dissolved and new forces recruited,” he said.

Senator Jallah has therefore called on the nation to recognize “this error and find the way forward in the interest of national security.”

He meanwhile issued several recommendations that are the best way forward to reinforce the country’s military strength, especially in the wake of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown plan.

Senator Jallah has recommended that the next National Budget (2016/2017) appropriates US$2m as a compensation package for the dissolved army to enable them cater to the needs of their respective families; that members of the dissolved army, who still have age in their favor and integrity to serve the country, be recalled into active service, and that the next National Budget (2016/2017) appropriates US$500,000 as a compensation package for the widows of disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Senator Jallah told journalists that if these steps were considered, they would be lasting solutions to the consistent calls and threats by members of the dissolved regular army and the widows of those whose lives were claimed by the war.

The Pro-Temp did not say how many widows stand to benefit should the government adhere to his recommendations.

Up to the time the widows protested for their husbands’ benefits, they were about 600 in number with ages ranging from 18 to approximately 46 and many of them claimed they had married to the soldiers with ranks from Colonel and above.

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