30 January 2013

Liberia: PYJ, Wotorson in Bitter Exchanges

It was a dramatic scene in the chambers of the Liberian Senate yesterday when confusion erupted between Nimba County Senior Senator Prince Y. Johnson and Grand Kru County Senator Cletus Wotorson using profanity. The two senators went into bitter exchanges in the presence of Finance Minister Amara Konneh and Defense Minister Brownie Samukai who had gone to explain the operational function and financial implication of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) mission in the West African region of Mali.

It all started when Senator Wotorson was explaining to Minister Samukai that he (Wotorson) had previously requested an inquiry on President Johnson Sirleaf's letter to the Senate for approval to deploy a platoon of the AFL to Mali.

In his explanation, Sen. Wotorson accused Senator Johnson as Chairman on the Senate's Standing Committee on National Security and Defense of not consulting the rest of the committee's members on security-related matter.

The confusion nearly disrupted regular session when the presiding officer and President of the Senate, Joseph N. Boakai, called the two senators to order.

With the intervention of the Vice President and other lawmakers, the session resumed but there were side comments across the floor from the two lawmakers to the extent that Sen. Johnson threaten to strike back if his colleague Sen. Wotorson does not apologize.

"Mr. Vice President, I'm a statesman in this country who contested the presidential elections and took third place. He must respect me and apologize for insulting me in the midst of the spectators. I take serious exception to his behavior toward me. I need an open apology or else....." Sen. Johnson demanded.

In response, Sen. Watorson said he does not owe any apology to Sen. Johnson because he (Johnson) was the first to throw insults at him and as a result, he will not apologize. "If I apologize, let me resign as senator of my county, "Wotorson said.

VP Boakai has promised that the matter would be taken to the Senate's leadership for settlement.

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