The New Dawn (Monrovia)

18 January 2013

Liberia: Senator Whitfield Is Dead

Barely three days after members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature returned from their annual agriculture break, a member of the first branch of government has suddenly collapsed, and died in Monrovia.

Tough-spoken Grand Bassa County Senator, John Francis Whitfield, reportedly died last evening while under intensive care at the St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital after he suffered breathing difficulty.

Sen. Whitefield collapsed Thursday morning as he left his residence to board his official vehicle for the Capitol to attend regular session of the Liberian Senate.

Reports gathered by this paper and corroborated by sources in the Liberian Senate, said Senator Whitfield was scheduled to have been flown to Accra, Ghana today, Friday for medical examination.

A New Dawn intern, who visited the St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital near Congo Town last evening, gathered that the Senator passed off after blood flooded his brain.

Family sources also confided in this paper that the Senator had been a hypertension patient, but did not take in alcohol due to short breath.They however expressed shock over the breadwinner's sudden demise. On Tuesday this week, Whitefield vowed to support former President Charles Taylor's demand for benefits due him as ex-Head of State.

Taylor's demand is contained in a three-page letter currently before the Senate, whose members have scheduled next Tuesday to debate the matter. The late senator was National Secretary General for Taylor's National Patriotic Party.

Thursday's incident seemed to have taken members of the Upper House by surprised when prior to the commencement of session, Senate Pro-tempore Gbezongar Milton Findley hastily rushed in the Senate Chamber and requested all senators to meet him in his conference room for a brief meeting.

Following the meeting, Pro-tempore Findley informed members of the Legislative Press Corps that one of their colleagues has seriously fallen ill, so he was announcing an immediate suspension of session to enable them identify with the family. The Pro-tempore however, hesitated in immediately disclosing the name to the press, promising to first contact family members before going to the media.

The entire session of plenary of the Liberian Senate came to a sudden close as Senators were seen leaving the chamber in a very sad mood, while some made telephone calls, apparently informing other colleagues of the news.

The late Senator Whitfield made his come back to the Capitol after he defeated former Defense Minister Daniel Chea in Grand Bassa County during the 2011 elections.

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