The Ministry of Finance wrote a letter that the Liberian Senate considered offensive and insulting and therefore cited the Minister to show reason why he should not be held in “contempt”. What is not clear is whether the “contempt” mentioned in the letter is the “contempt of Legislature” as contained in Article 44 of the Constitution, because clearly then, the charge is out of place. The contemplation of Article 44 of the Constitution is clearly not satisfied by this letter but be that as it may, the Liberian Senate took a vote to convict the Minister of Finance “without his due process right” as contained the very Constitution that the Senators are claiming to protect.
What is quite astonishing about this process is that every entity of Government received similar letter with the same exact language but only the Liberian Senate took offense to this letter. We have reviewed more than 60 copies of the letter sent and the language, word-for-word, is the same in every letter that we saw. Was it then the intention of the Ministry of Finance to insult every agency of the Government? We expect the Liberian Senate to know better. Even if the tone of the letter sounded offensive, and we beg to differ, there should be a better use of the public time than going back and forth and trying to make a mountain out of a mound hill.
The Liberian people deserve better from their leaders especially the House of Elders (the Liberian Senate). For the country’s work to be placed on hold in exchange for vainglorious political theatrics is a great disservice to the country and its people. The only logical conclusion in this matter is that the Liberian Senate does not want to see its budget cut even though everyone agrees that these are turbulent economic times and austerity is required. Apparently, the Liberian Senate sees the potential cut of US$1.2 million from its budget as reduction in the perks of members of the Senate. There is no other way to rationale what the Liberian Senate is putting the country through. We have witnessed the hearings and have seen that the Minister of Finance has taken responsibility for the letter and has apologized for the tone of the letter.
He has even stated that he will withdraw the letter and send a new one. Just last week, the Legislature even leaked a letter of apology written and signed by the Minister in which he pleaded with the Liberian Senate to accept his sincere apology and drop charges of “contempt” in the interest of moving the country forward. To our outmost surprise, the Liberian Senate rejected the Minister’s apology of the letter and decided to vote to have him incarcerated. This is what leaves one with no other conclusion but to say that the Senate’s wrath is only about the budget cut; not the letter.
As a last resort, the Minister of Finance has now taken the matter to the Supreme Court, which in turn has placed injunction on the Senate’s action to have Minister Konneh incarcerated.
For the good of the country, we humbly beseech the honorable Senate to bury the hatchet, drop contempt proceedings against Minister Konneh and allow the work of the nation to proceed. The Liberian people deserve better than this rigmarole.