By Varney Sirleaf
Registered political parties are calling on the national legislature to enact the Local Government Bill into law. In a Joint Resolution adopted in Buchanan City, Brand Bassa County by political parties on
Decentralization and Local Governance Reforms, the parties urged the Executive Branch of Government to fast track’ submission of the draft Local Government Act to the Legislative Branch of Government and at the same time, called on the Legislature including members representing their respective political parties to enact the Local Government Bill into law. The registered political parties including coalitions and alliances further called on the Legislature to approve constitutional reform proposals for the amendment of Articles 3, 54, and 56 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia to enable the implementation of decentralization.
The parties reiterated their commitment to the decentralization process and local governance reforms as the means to sustainable peace building, national reconciliation and democratic state building in Liberia.
Members of the registered political parties, coalitions, and alliances who assembled in the City of Buchannan, Grand Bassa County affirmed their commitment to preserve the unitary state system and equally commit to providing equal opportunities for all citizens through local self-governance in the sharing of political, fiscal and administrative powers with county authorities. The parties reasoned that since 1847 and throughout the history of Liberia, governance and public administration have remained highly centralized in Monrovia and have not allowed adequate opportunities for the establishment of a system of participatory local governance.
The parties further noted in the resolution that the highly centralized system of governance has impeded popular participation in the provision of public goods and services, and has contributed to the need for greater accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs and led to the gap in economic growth and development, equal access to political, social and economic opportunities between Monrovia and the rest of Liberia.
Political parties in Liberia also recalled that the Governance Commission, in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, has conducted nation-wide consultations on political, fiscal and administrative decentralization with the citizens throughout the Republic, including representatives of political parties, media and civil society organizations, women and youth groups, school teachers, university students and professors, traditional leaders, past and present county superintendents, city mayors, district commissioners, chiefs, elders, and career public administration professionals and technicians, local community leaders nation-wide.
Meanwhile, the opposition Liberty party (LP) did not sign the resolution of political parties despite its presence at the two-day conference on political parties. Liberty Party cited concerns relating to the election and reporting system of County Superintendents as mandated by the proposed Local Government Act (to which the joint resolution referenced).