The Senate yesterday voted unanimously to purge the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Amara Konneh, of Contempt of the Legislature and told him he was free to go, but to “sin no more.”
The Senate’s decision followed a motion for reconsideration filed by Grand Gedeh County Senator, G. Alphonso Gaye. It was read and followed by a brief statement of apology from Minister Konneh himself to the plenary presided over by the President of the Senate, Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Immediately after the apology, a motion for an executive session was proffered and behind the mahogany doors, the lawmakers reached a decision to end the protracted misunderstanding between the Senate and the Executive.
Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais, on behalf of his colleagues, stated that due to the intervention of the Liberian Council of Churches, the Traditional Council of Liberia and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Senate meeting in executive, had rescinded its position on Minister Konneh’s 48 hour imprisonment sentence.
He told the Finance Minister that “…the Senators have tempered justice with mercy; we have pardoned you and say to you that you are now purged of all that we have brought to bear on you and as per your charge with the Senate, you are once more a free man. Go and sin no more.”
In a brief statement, Minister Konneh expressed gratitude to the senators for their mercy on him.
“Mr. President of the Senate and Honorable Senators, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your mercy and to wish you happy Easter. Thank you,” the Minister declared amid laughter from some of the Senators and those who accompanied him to the session.
It may be recalled that a few weeks ago, Mr. Konneh’s Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Dr. James Kollie, wrote the Senate informing them of the downturn in the economy and the need to recast the 2015/2016 National Budget.
The Senate however, took exception to a phrase which they considered offensive in the wording of the letter and therefore invited Minister Konneh and his Deputy to appear before plenary.
In spite of Minister Konneh’s apology to the Senators for the aspect of the letter they found offensive, he was charged with contempt of the Legislature for usurpation of their functions by attempting to appropriate the budget, which is constitutionally their role. They sentenced him to 48 hours imprisonment, but the Minister, on several occasions, eluded detention.