8 February 2018

Liberia: MIA Minister-Designate Proposes Chieftaincy Election for Liberia

The Minister of Internal Affairs-Designate, Honorable Varney A. Sirleaf says if confirmed, he will work with the Legislature to conduct Chieftaincy Elections in Liberia.

He said for too long, traditional chiefs have not gone to election, the situation which he said, has caused problem for local government. Mr. Sirleaf said Chieftaincy Elections will help the Government to address the many overlaps in the local government system.

The Internal Affairs Minister-Designate noted that the election will help Government cut down the wage bill, noting that in fact some chiefs presently do not constitutionally preside over legitimate jurisdictions.

According a release from the Internal Affairs Ministry, the Internal Affairs Minister-Designate was speaking Monday, February 5, 2018 when he appeared before the Senate for confirmation hearing.

Mr. Sirleaf also told the Senate hearing that one of the key focus areas of his administration will be the sustainability of County Service Centers under the Decentralization Program.

He said while the Decentralization Program is currently largely donor-funded, such funds are short-lived emphasizing the need for Government to take ownership through direct budget support especially for the operations of the 15 County Service Centers which are easing constraints faced by Liberians.

"Our focus is to sustain decentralization and better serve the people. These CSCs are raising lot of Government revenues, but as you are aware, revenues generated are distributed through the National budget. In the meantime, I appeal to the Legislature to consider direct budget support to sustain these County Service Centers". Honorable Sirleaf reemphasized.

He promised to pursue the passage of the Local Government Act (LGA) which is currently before the Senate. Honorable Sirleaf described the LGA as a major legislation that will help improve the country's local administration and aims to give effect to the Country's National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance by providing equal opportunity for all of its citizens to engage in the governance of the state through the devolution of certain administrative, fiscal and political powers and institutions from the national government to local governments.

Speaking about Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, Honorable Sirleaf told the senators that the Ministry will continue to work with the relevant institutions and development partners to pursue peace and national reconciliation, making reference to the Carter Center, Liberia Peacebuilding Office, and National Peace Ambassador, the National Council of Chiefs and the Governors Council among others.

The release said the Internal Affairs Minister-Designate promised to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture to promote food production at district and county levels, similar to the pre-war green revolution era to make Liberia self-sufficient in food production.

To realize this plan, Mr. Sirleaf disclosed that his administration will revamp the Communal Farming Bureau at the Ministry.

The Minister-Designate who is also as a former Deputy Minister for Administration at the Internal Affairs Ministry promised renewed commitment, noting that if confirmed, he would be assuming the new position with a wealth of experience and knowledge to help implement the Pro-poor Agenda of President George M. Weah.

He promised to work closely with staff of the Ministry including the senior management team for the success of the Ministry.

The Internal Affairs Ministry release said Honorable Sirleaf assured that he will strengthen the Ministry's relationship with members of the Legislature in the discharge of their responsibilities

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