Minister Konneh reappeared before the Senate Tuesday to show reason why should not be held in contempt. During the heated deliberations, Maryland County Senator Dan Morias’ previous motion requesting a 48 hours jail sentence was overwhelmingly voted by majority members of the senate.
Minister Konneh who earlier stated that his letter was generic apologized to members of that body for content of his communication and is expected to reappear after three sessions of the senate.
“I do not intend to disrespect members of this body, my letter was generic, therefore I regret and apologized for the content of the communication”, Minister Konneh indicated, adding, “I therefore plead for a political resolution to the crisis and request your indulgence to convene this matter in executive”.
The senate however rejected the minister’s request and opted for imprisonment on grounds that he grossly disrespected members of that body.
During previous hearing, Minister Konneh told members of the 53rd National Legislature that his communication only sought the adjustment in the legislative budget which intended to address the fiscal insufficiency as a result of the economic crisis and did not meant to disrespect the first branch of government.
The communication signed by Dr. James Kollie, Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs and addressed to the Liberian Senate, outlined steady austerity which seek for the reduction by US$1M the budget of the national legislature.
The MFDP communication pointed out that it remains an extreme imperative that the government of Liberia employ austerity measures to cut back public spending by US$69.9 million and efforts have been made to protect spending on compensation, debt repayments and social benefits, as well as counterpart funding, national priority projects
and spending programs in the health, and education sectors.
The move by the Senate to jail Konneh for contempt is seen by many as a smokescreen for the Senate to dodge budget cut.
Last week, renowned Liberian journalist Rodney Sieh had termed the Senate’s action as “rubbish”, noting that just because someone suggests budget cut does not mean they should go to jail.