27 November 2012

Liberia: Traditional Council Granted Autonomy Status

The National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) has been granted autonomy status by the government and shall now be referred to as 'The National Council of Chiefs and Elders of the Republic of Liberia.'

Article 5(a) of the 1986 constitution provides that the Republic shall aim to strengthen national integration and unity of the people of Liberia, regardless of ethnic, regional or other difference into one body politic.

Furthermore, Article 5(b) of the Act giving autonomy status to the Traditional Council states that the Republic shall preserve, protect and promote positive Liberian culture, ensuring that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the Liberian society.

The Act, which was approved on August 22, 2012 by the 53rd National Legislature, was published by authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 27, 2012.

The functions of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders are to preserve, protect and foster positive Liberian traditions, cultural heritage and traditional institutions and assist the government achieve sustained peace, reconciliation and reunification at all levels.

The Chiefs and Elders shall organize and convene national consultations for the purpose of dialogue on issues of local governance and contributions to budget debates, thereby allowing them to advance proposals to government for due considerations.

Accordingly, they will organize and hold cultural meetings, seminars and conferences aimed at enlightening and educating the general public about traditional norms, practices and procedures.

They will also assist in promoting government programs and projects by interpreting policies to rural inhabitants, and provide independent and non-partisan advice to the government on internal affairs.

Speaking to reporters during the distribution of the Act to Chiefs and Elders from the 15 political sub-divisions, Chairman Zanzar Karwor said granting autonomy to traditional leaders was important in protecting and preserving the rich cultural heritage of the country.

"As we divide the act today creating the Council of Chiefs and Elders, it is important for all of you (Chiefs and Elders) to exhaustively read the provisions and work in compatible to the functions ascribed therein," Karwor told his colleagues.

He noted that the act will properly guide traditional chiefs and elders to discharge their functions in promoting peace and national unity.

Following the distribution of the act, Chief Karwor urged his colleagues to invest in agriculture as a means of producing not only rice, but other crops to supplement the country's staple food.

"You cannot be a chief or elder without having a farm; we must go back to our various counties and make maximum use of the soil." If strangers come to your village or town, the first person to welcome and provide food is the Chief or Elder," Chief Karwor stressed.

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